The Skytrans Cairns Taipans will don Cairns Marlins colours for this week’s NBL Heritage Round in a tribute to the 2004 Cairns Marlins ABA National Championship side.
The 2004 Marlins were the first all-Australian side to win the Australian Basketball Association National Championship, and the roster featured some key faces in Cairns’ basketball history including:
§ Aron Baynes: 2012 Olympian, currently linked with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs
§ Nathan Jawai: NBA draftee, currently playing with FC Barcelona
§ Aaron Fearne: current Skytrans Cairns Taipans head coach
§ Aaron Grabau: current Skytrans Cairns Taipan
§ Kerry Williams: current Skytrans Cairns Taipan
§ Kane Oakley: former Cairns Taipan
§ Mark Beecroft (head coach): former Taipans assistant coach, current CEO.
It took a thrilling second-half comeback for the Marlins to claim the national championship game 104-100 over the North-West Tasmania Thunder.
Trailing by 20 points at the start of the third quarter and with Kane Oakley in foul trouble, Beecroft gave Aaron Grabau the task of guarding Thunder forward (and current Perth Wildcat) Shawn Redhage.
Grabau completed his assignment superbly, keeping Redhage virtually scoreless for the second half to set up the championship and claim finals MVP honours.
Late in the game, point guard Ben Arkell broke his toe, leaving a fresh-faced 17-year-old Kerry Williams to run the Marlins’ offence for the final three minutes.
Nathan Jawai played an important cameo in that game too, netting 10 points in only 10 minutes as he continued a meteoric rate of development that would see him drafted to the NBA just four years later.
The Skytrans Cairns Taipans will wear their heritage uniforms this Friday night when they face the Wildcats in Perth.
2004 Cairns Marlins: ABA National Champions
Head coach: Mark Beecroft
Assistant coach: Rupert Sapwell
Team Manager: Glen Silva