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GAME REPORT

Playoffs Game 2: Taipans force decider in Sydney

17 February 2023

5 mins read

CQUniversity Cairns Taipans (93) defeated Sydney Kings (82)
Playoffs Series Game 2 | Cairns Convention Centre
Next Game: Taipans at Kings, Sunday 19 February 1:00pm AEST

SUMMARY

The CQUniversity Cairns Taipans delivered a performance full of heart in front of the Orange Army to beat the Sydney Kings 93-82 on Friday night to force the Playoffs Series to a Game 3 on Sunday.

The Snakes started strongly and remained in charge virtually the whole night at Cairns Convention Centre but it was a Friday evening full of drama all the same to set up a mouth-watering Game 3 on Sunday back in Sydney.

By the end of the evening, the Taipans had put together a terrific performance to win by 11 with coach Adam Forde using just seven players with Shannon Scott out with a sore hamstring and only Ben Ayre and Lat Mayen getting on from the bench.

Up the other end, the Kings finished the game with coach Chase Buford having been ejected in a frantic last couple of minutes which included Kouat Noi leaving with a bloodied nose with MVP Xavier Cooks off with a rolled ankle.

Sam Waardenburg helped Cairns out to the hot start with the game's first five points. The Snakes would lead 7-0 and then 10-4 when Waardenburg landed his second three ball to have eight of those first 10 points.

Just like Jonah Antonio did in the first half on Wednesday, Lat Mayen caught fire the rest of the opening quarter for the Snakes. The rookie forward hit a couple of three-pointers, made a mid-range jumper and hit another couple at the foul line.

Mayen delivered 10 points on 3/4 shooting in the last five minutes of the quarter to help the Snakes to the 27-19 lead at quarter-time topped off with Tahjere McCall scoring on the buzzer.

McCall opened the scoring in the second quarter and when Ben Ayre added five quick points including a three, in the space of a minute the Snakes were up 15.

The Taipans would end up leading by 16 shortly after but the Kings were staying in touch. But the Taipans had all the answers in the opening half to remain on top 54-41 this time with McCall landing another from beyond the arc to go into the break.

Cairns jacked up 22 threes in the half and made eight of them while shooting 51 per cent overall to lead by 13.

The Taipans blew the game wide open during the third quarter going on a run of scoring 11 straight points. It began with a triple from Hogg, included an alley-oop throwdown by Waardenburg and that pushed the lead for the home team out to 21 points.

Sydney did respond with the next seven points and tempers began to flare, but the Taipans remained in control leading 70-54 at three quarter-time.

Sydney did threaten on a few occasions in the fourth quarter to get close enough to make things interesting, but couldn’t quite with the Taipans having all the answers.

That didn’t stop the drama though. With Buford ejected, Noi leaving with a bloodied nose and then even a heavy collision running back down the floor where Tim Soares sent Waardenburg to the floor.

STATISTICS

The Snakes brought the energy from the outset. This time 10 points in the opening quarter from Lat Mayen helped them take control and by half-time their lead was out to 11.

The third quarter saw the Taipans break the game further open with an 11-0 run. They would lead by as much as 21 before going on to win by 11 to force a deciding Game 3 back at Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday with the winner to advance to the Championship Series.

DJ Hogg once again top-scored for the Snakes with 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists including knocking down 4/8 from long-range.

Tahjere McCall returned with 20 points, seven assists, four rebounds and three steals with Sam Waardenburg contributing 15 points, 10 boards and three huge blocks, Ben Ayre 12 points, Lat Mayen 12 points and six rebounds, and Bul Kuol nine points, three rebounds and two steals.

STATEMENTS

Head Coach Adam Forde: 

"We got the win so we extend it out to a Game 3 and that was important for us. You know, I've got to credit the guys because this is four games in eight days and it wasn’t a friendly film session this morning. But this is how they respond, we always tend to do a good job of bouncing back and we were disappointing in Sydney. The crazy thing was and this is what we highlighted, we were still only down four with a minute to go and we highlighted at least 21 deficiencies on our ends both on the offence and defence. To come out and make that adjustment was massive. Tahj was massive, I mean for him to come out and defy doctor's orders is just what this team is. They're gritty, they're tough and they know what's on the line. So I'm very happy."

Taipans Rookie Lat Mayen:

"It just makes you want to go out there and play hard for each other. When someone is down and they keep going, you always want to play hard for each other. That's exactly what he (McCall) did and we wanted to do the same thing in return. It was fun being out there in that game. We're playing basketball and it's fun out there. There was a lot of emotions for sure but it was good to get the win."

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