Cairns Taipans continue to defy the odds as they rack up NBL wins without their star trio of Nate Jawai, Stephen Weigh and Mike Carerra.
While most thought they might buckle in the absence of the talented trio, the Taipans have channelled their self-belief and have battled their way to four consecutive victories.
Saturday’s win over the up and down Melbourne United was highlighted by their determined play, as they fought hard to collect a win that puts them firmly in the race to the finals with a 7-7- record.
Coach Aaron Fearne was delighted with the effort of his team, who he conceded lacked some offensive firepower and seemed fatigued going into the game.
“We’re down some key guys from a scoring perspective and we’ve got to win games by defending and rebounding and trying to get out in transition and trying to get some easy buckets.,” he said.
“We’re defending really well right now.”
While effort and defence are keys for the Taipans, their ability to move the ball and have a spread of scorers was highlighted against Melbourne.
Five players — Alex Loughton, Mitch McCarron, Jarrad Weeks, Chris Patton and Jerry Evans Jr. — all hit double figures in scoring.
Fearne admitted to frustration in some offensive sets but was pleased with the ball movement.
“(We) try and frustrate you in the way we want to play offensively and move the ball and move each other,” he said.
“When we have pace and really move the ball well and work your counters quicker, like we did tonight, we are really hard to guard.”
With the team now in the top four, Fearne reflected on his career after notching up his 250th career win.
“(I’ve) matured a lot, learnt a lot. Learnt a lot form mistakes and success,” he said,
“Have I mellowed some? I don’t know, probably not.
“I mean I still think I’m fairly demanding and aggressive.”
If Cairns continue to play in the same aggressive manner they employed against Melbourne, Taipans fans will be hoping Fearne doesn’t change any time soon.
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