Ben Madgen of the Phoenix (left) contests with Scott Machado of Cairns during the Round 17 NBL match between the South Melbourne Phoenix and the Cairns Taipans at the State Basketball Centre in Melbourne, Sunday, January 26, 2020. (AAP Image/Hamish Blair)
Ben Madgen of the Phoenix (left) contests with Scott Machado of Cairns during the Round 17 NBL match between the South Melbourne Phoenix and the Cairns Taipans at the State Basketball Centre in Melbourne, Sunday, January 26, 2020. (AAP Image/Hamish Blair)

Cairns hold on after late Phoenix charge

A handful of observations from the Cairns Taipans' big win against SEM Phoenix on Sunday afternoon on the road.

 

MILESTONES APLENTY

Co-captain Nate Jawai recorded a significant milestone on Sunday in Melbourne as he played his 150th NBL game.

The Bamaga big man started his career with the Snakes, before heading to the NBA and Europe, and has since added to his NBL game tally with Perth, and now back in Cairns.

The 33-year-old is now in his fourth consecutive season back in Cairns and fifth overall with the Taipans.

"He has had an extraordinary career," Andrew Gaze said of Jawai during the game.

Fellow co-captain DJ Newbill played his 50th game with the Snakes as well on Sunday.

Newbill started his NBL career with NZ.

 

WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THE ROOKIES ANKLE?

After looking all but certain to play, going by training activity, this week, Kouat Noi again missed on Sunday.

As the Snakes do not play again until Friday night, if he returns against Illawarra, the rookie forward would have been on the sidelines for six weeks.

Noi's recovery and rehabilitation has been a curious process throughout, early on being called a high ankle sprain, which was listed as day-to-day when he would come back.

But, in the last few weeks it has been referred to as bone bruising.

Basketballers do not usually miss six weeks for a stock standard rolled ankle.

With Noi missing, the Snakes played one player down again as none of the development players travelled.

 

 

John Roberson of the Phoenix appeals for a foul after hitting a three pointer on the final buzzer to bring the Phoenix within 1 point during the Round 17 NBL match between the South Melbourne Phoenix and the Cairns Taipans at the State Basketball Centre in Melbourne, Sunday, January 26, 2020. (AAP Image/Hamish Blair)
John Roberson of the Phoenix appeals for a foul after hitting a three pointer on the final buzzer to bring the Phoenix within 1 point during the Round 17 NBL match between the South Melbourne Phoenix and the Cairns Taipans at the State Basketball Centre in Melbourne, Sunday, January 26, 2020. (AAP Image/Hamish Blair)

 

 

FIRING EARLY ON

It took three minutes of game time for either team to miss a shot in the opening term.

The game started 9-11 from the field, with the Snakes contributing five of those, including three from the land of plenty.

In that period, Cairns also went 3-3 from the charity stripe.

Both clubs put up 31 each in the first term as they rarely missed.

It would go like that for much of the game with much more offence than defence played by both teams.

 

 

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 26: Taipans Coach Mike Kelly speaks to his players post match during the round 17 NBL match between the South East Melbourne Phoenix and the Cairns Taipans at the State Basketball Centre on January 26, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 26: Taipans Coach Mike Kelly speaks to his players post match during the round 17 NBL match between the South East Melbourne Phoenix and the Cairns Taipans at the State Basketball Centre on January 26, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images)

 

 

SPECIAL COMMENTS

As far as the call team goes for NBL games, the combination of Andrew Gaze and Corey Williams is as good as it gets.

"Drewy" and "Homicide" are a nice blend of fun and actual analysis of the contest.

The duo were in fine form during Sunday's game.

There was an interesting moment in the first quarter, however.

Jarrod Kenny appeared to go close to recording an unsportsmanlike foul and the commentators suddenly went quiet.

Gaze made a curious remark about not being allowed to talk about the situation.

It ended up being just a normal foul for Kenny.

 

 

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 26: Scott Machado of the Taipans in pain during the round 17 NBL match between the South East Melbourne Phoenix and the Cairns Taipans at the State Basketball Centre on January 26, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 26: Scott Machado of the Taipans in pain during the round 17 NBL match between the South East Melbourne Phoenix and the Cairns Taipans at the State Basketball Centre on January 26, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images)

 

 

CREEK WAS TALKING

Phoenix forward Mitch Creek was giving co-captain Jawai a little advice when the Snakes big man was at the free-throw line in the third term.

Jawai just smiled, drained the freebie and walked over to give Creek a playful slap on the face.

Jawai got the last laugh as Creek missed a pair of free throws the next possession and the big bloke from Bamaga let him know about it afterwards.

The reserve centre was busy for the Snakes, hitting his first three shots as well as making 5-6 from free throws inside three quarters.

He finished with 11 points in an encouraging display.

 

BAD MEMORIES

The Taipans looked the likely winners for much of the season half, but Phoenix provided a few late nerves for the Cairns faithful.

SEM come from behind to defeat the Snakes just over a month ago and that would have been in the back of Mike Kelly's mind in crunch time.

His side did enough this time to close it out and will likely go on to play finals now.