Cairns started their 2016/17 campaign with a 3000 kilometre trip to the opposite side of the country to face the defending champion Perth Wildcats.
Despite adding a number of players to the roster, the Taipans have featured at the very bottom of my pre-season rankings in the media and they are dead with the betting agencies listing them at 21-1.
In comparison, the opponents the Wildcats currently sit as equal favourites to win the NBL championship at 4-1, the Taipans couldn’t have drawn a tougher opponent for round one.
Despite the David and Goliath match up the Taipans were able to remain tied with the Wildcats at the end of regulation and a huge upset was on the cards.
The experience and depth of the Wildcats, however, proved too strong as they came away victorious in the overtime period, the final score being 101-89.
Stand outs for the game were Cam Gliddon (20 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists) who despite a pretty poor first half (1-7 from the field) finished with an incredible game.
Gliddon’s accuracy from long range was unusually off in round one but he quickly redeemed himself by finding numerous ways to keep the Taipans scoreboard ticking over. A variety of offensive moves showed why he was very close to becoming a part of the Boomers Rio Olympic team this year.
New recruit Jarrad Weeks (11 points and 3 assists) was fantastic in his orange and blue debut. Agent 97’s first start in an NBL game did not disappoint. Weeks showed Cairns fans why he was a fan favorite in Illawarra for a long time and his efforts on defence and accurate three-point shooting (3/3 from three-point range) gave fans positive signs of whats to come.
Nnanna Egwu (14 points and 4 rebounds) provided fantastic energy in his NBL debut. Egwu showed why Coach Aaron Fearne values Egwu so highly. A number of quality screens set by early allowed Cairns to score in a variety of ways.
Egwu took the game into his own hands when it was crunchtime and connected on some great jump hooks which Perth had no answers for. It will be exciting to see what Egwu and Nate Jawai can do together when he is healthy and back on the court.
The Taipans next game is 7.30pm Saturday against the Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena.