Waardenburg wonderful in Taipans thrashing

DESPITE having their biggest name out of the contest, the Cairns Taipans produced a clinical performance as they smashed the Brisbane Bullets to the tune of 26 points at Nissan Arena on Thursday night.

The Bullets had their best chance at claiming a rare win over one of the competition’s big improvers when Keanu Pinder was ruled out through injury. However, the Taipans showed that they are more than one player, and hit triple-digits without their leading scorer and star player.

A number of players stood up in the result, including Sam Waardenberg, with the youngster producing one of the best games of his short career, leading the side in scoring as Cairns stormed past their fellow Queensland side.

Brisbane Bullets (81) def. by Cairns Taipans (107)

Sam Waardenburg – 24 points, eight rebounds, one assist

Waardenburg was one of three Taipans to score 20 or more points, but none registered a higher total than the 23 year-old forward, who excelled with the added responsibility with Pinder out.

Although he had a whopping 24 points, Waardenburg got it done on just 10 attempts from the field, with seven of those finding the bottom of the net. The Taipans were looking to push the tempo in transition, and kick out to the open man, with the rising gun often reaping the rewards of his side’s strong ball movement.

He did most of his damage inside the arc, going 6/7 from two-point territory and hurting the opposition by attacking the rim or pulling up from mid-range. The team did not operate solely through the young forward, but he made the most of the opportunities created by the likes of Tahjere McCall and Bul Kuol.

Whenever the team was on the fast break, it was often Waardenburg that put himself in the right position to be on the end of an impressive pass. He was not afraid to attack the rim and expose the Bullets’ underperforming interior defence.

Waardenburg was also the team’s premier rebounder, crashing the glass on the defensive end to rise above the pack and pull down some handy boards. With Pinder the team’s leading rebounder, the New Zealand-native was the one to step up and ensure Brisbane’s talls did not control the skies.

Having now fully cemented a spot in the starting lineup, Waardenburg has completely justified the minutes he has been getting on the Taipans, and should the side continue to strive for a postseason appearance, will play an important role at the three.

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