Game Preview: Taipans vs Breakers
It’s the first road double for the CQUniversity Cairns Taipans for the 2023-24 NBL season, and it starts with the club’s first ever game played in Christchurch, facing the New Zealand Breakers at Wolfbrook Arena.
Six rounds in, Cairns are sitting second on the ladder with a 3-2 record, while their waiting opponents sit at the bottom of the ladder with only one victory from five games played – so far, a significant difference for the squad who played in the Grand Final series earlier this year.
However, New Zealand’s only win came against the Taipans, in the first game of the season back on September 30 at Spark Arena before both teams embarked on their respective NBLxNBA trips. The Breakers got the 98-87 victory last time they met. Will the Taipans strike and make it one game apiece between these two sides this season, or will the Breakers be too strong once again?
WHEN AND WHERE
Friday 3 November – Wolfbrook Arena (4:30pm AEST)
HOW TO FOLLOW
Watch: Live on KAYO and ESPN
The Taipans have won three games; with two road losses in New Zealand and Ilawarra.
Conversely, the Breakers only victory has been at home against the Taipans, and have faced the Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and South East since.
Cairns made a statement with a strong seven-point win when hosting the defending Champions last round but were dealt a blow in star import guard Patrick Miller suffering a back injury that will see him sit out for the entire weekend. Forward Lachlan Anderson is also experiencing back soreness from training and isn’t due to return until November 18.
In big ins for the squad, fan favourite Tahjere McCall will meet his team mates in New Zealand, while excited Australia guard Taran Armstrong is set to make his NBL debut after being sidelined due to a foot injury.
For the Breakers, ex-NBA forward Zylan Cheatham has been ruled out from the clash after pulling up gingerly after last week’s loss to the Adelaide 36ers.
It’s an early call but anticipate McCall to come into the starting five for the Taipans in place of the injured Miller, with a greater contribution from Bul Kuol who had just seven points against the Breakers last time. The former Rookie of the Year became the first “ironman” of the season, playing the full 40 minutes against Sydney.
With the return of McCall and Armstrong to get his NBL debut, expect the Orange Army to show they have improved with their potency heightened in the past two months, as a team with loads of potential to be playing deep into post-season for another year.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
The Tasmanian product has shown glimpses of his professional potential in his minutes during the NBL Blitz before suffering a foot injury.Against the Illawarra Hawks on September 22, he put the league on alert with a performance with seven points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals from 24 minutes of court-time.
He now gets his NBL regular season debut, and it gives reigning Coach of the Year Adam Forde the chance to showcase the youthful potency that his side possesses. He has been described as an exciting and an emerging point guard for the future, and he finally gets his shot to prove the point.
Kuol is becoming an emerging leader for the Taipans, despite it being just his third season in the NBL. His reputation as one of the best two-way players in the league continues to grows, and his intentions are always made clear on both ends of the court. He stuffed the stat-sheet last week: 24 points, five rebounds, two assists and one steal without rest.