IT’S gone under the radar, but the CQUniversity Cairns Taipans enter the inaugural Australian Basketball Challenge today with the best pre-season streak in the League.
Formerly known as the Blitz, the Taipans are the only team to go undefeated in the NBL’s pre-season competition over the last two years, and have managed to place second on the ladder for the last three years in a row.
Despite their flawless winning streak in 2014 and 2015, the Snakes narrowly missed out on the tournament title due to the old scoring system – where Blitz points were allocated for individual quarters as well as the overall game.
In 2014, the Taipans equaled the total Blitz points tally with the Townsville Crocodiles, but lost out on the silverware due to the overall points deferential – falling 11 points short to their former Queensland counterparts.
In 2015, an overtime thriller against the Breakers restricted them to just five Blitz points instead of the potential six – coming second to Melbourne United, although they did not come home empty-handed, with Markel Starks’ MVP Award.
Last year the Taipans made history with Starks’ honours (shared with United’s Stephen Holt) as the former import became the first NBL player to earn the Ray Borner Medal not part of the Blitz-Championship winning team.
This year, Cairns will face the Adelaide 36ers, New Zealand Breakers and Brisbane Bullets in their bid for the Loggins-Bruton Cup, playing three games in three consecutive days.
Cairns have shown strong signs throughout their 2016 pre-season campaign, sweeping the Perth Wildcats 2-0 on the road before travelling to Melbourne to split the series 1-1.
The Taipans were down key personnel in their recent losses to the Illawarra Hawks, and will likely be bolstered by the return of Travis Trice and Stephen Weigh.
Mark Worthington, recovering from ankle surgery, trained with the team leading up to the ABC and may see minimal court time as he gets back to full-strength, while Nate Jawai is still locked in for a Round One return.
CAIRNS TAIPANS ABC SCHEDULE
Saturday 24 September, 11am (EST)
VS Adelaide 36ers
Sunday 25 September, 11am (EST)
VS New Zealand Breakers
Monday 26 September, 5pm (EST)
VS Brisbane Bullets
All games will be streamed LIVE and FREE at nbl.com.au/abc.
The Cairns Taipans begin their season at home on Thursday 27 October.
Save 15% online by purchasing now – and join us for a special 2016 Members Day on Saturday 2 October!