Tassie tops Taipans to move closer to play-in

LIFE has become much more difficult for the Cairns Taipans, after sustaining a loss to Tasmania JackJumpers to the tune of eight points to kick off Round 18 of the National Basketball League (NBL) at Cairns Convention Centre.

Coming into Thursday night’s clash, the Taipans needed to win to remain truly in the hunt for a spot in the postseason in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, their last three matchups of the season were against the top three sides, with the JackJumpers the most beatable of the three based on form.

On the other hand, Tasmania came into the game sitting in third spot, and while a spot in the top two is out of reach, securing a home game in the play-in would be massive. However, the team was coming off a tough loss to the Breakers last week, and the Cairns crowd always plays a big role.

Although it was close for a large portion of the match, the JackJumpers broke away in the second half to claim a 94-86 win.

Cairns Taipans (86) def. by Tasmania JackJumpers (94)

The game was extremely tight in the opening term, with the Taipans fighting back after Tasmania knocked down back to back triples to start the game on a 6-0 run. Instead, Cairns prevented the JackJumpers from finding any success scoring the ball inside, and moved the rock around to find the open look itself. At the end of the first period, it was a tied ball game at 22 apiece.

That trend continued into the second quarter, with neither team able to truly break away on the scoreboard. It was basket for basket throughout the term, and although both sides made some tough shots, they were often answered down the other end. The JackJumpers led by a solitary point at the main break, setting up a tantalising second half.

Quarter number three saw Tasmania break away on the back of some brilliance from Jordan Crawford. The high-scoring guard splashed home three triples for the term, giving the JackJumpers some much-needed breathing space. Things got heated when Tassie big man Will Magnay bowled over Taipans star Patrick Miller, and the pair had to be separated after exchanging words after the collision. Tempers cooled as Tasmania held a 10-point lead at the final change, courtesy of a buzzer-beating three-pointer from halfcourt out of the hands of Sean Macdonald.

Although it was an improved effort from the home side to get back into the contest, the JackJumpers seemingly always had the answer. The margin got out to as much as 15 points thanks to some excellent offence from Clint Steindl and Crawford, as Tassie emerged eight-point victors, with the Taipans needing a miracle from here.

Crawford top-scored for the JackJumpers, knocking down six three-pointers en route to 25 points in another scorching display. Steindl’s cameo off the bench was crucial, with the captain knocking down all five of his attempts from the field to finish the game with 14 points, while Milton Doyle stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

The JackJumpers will be sweating on the health of Magnay, who had to be helped to the bench after a big collision with Cairns’ captain Tahjere McCall, which resulted in the Tassie big man holding his ribs.

Miller kept the Taipans in the game with 31 points on 10/18 shooting from the field, and making 10 shots on 13 attempts from the free throw line. Despite coming off the bench, McCall was also impressive with 20 points, three rebounds and two assists of his own.

The JackJumpers will back it up on Sunday afternoon, when they take on the Adelaide 36ers in a big clash for both sides, while last night’s game was the only match of the round for the Taipans.

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