How Akoldah Gak’s breakout game further highlights Taipans depth and playoff credentials
After barely seeing the floor last season, Gak has been one of the bright spots in the Cairns Taipans' 2-1 start.
Credit: John McCreary (via Cairns Taipans)
With just 23 combined minutes over three games for Taran Armstrong, Tahjere McCall, and Josh Roberts, Cairns’ opening pre-NBA stretch of the schedule threatened to be a tricky one.
Last season, the Cairns Taipans didn’t skip a beat in Keanu Pinder’s absence, going 8-1 in the regular season without him, as well as notching up a play-in win over the Perth Wildcats and a playoff game win over the eventual champions. There’s still some jet lag to shake off on their return home, but evidence continues to mount that Adam Forde has built something that isn’t reliant on a couple of players.
This year’s roster is literally deeper than last, with productive Next Star Bobi Klintman an additional rostered player. Add Lat Mayen, who has continued his upward trajectory after late opportunities last season, plus the breakout play of 21-year-old Akoldah Gak, and the rotation is deeper in quality. Some pieces are obviously more important than others, notably Sam Waardenburg, who is morphing into one of the league’s most well-rounded bigs. Having two ball handlers out injured at the one time was also a real challenge, but the personnel overall is quite interchangeable.
Forde speaking after a round two win against South East Melbourne:
“We did this by design with the group that we have, because it’s young and multiple positions, but each position has a very experienced leader in it. You just need three out of the four guys to be performing, with the idea that some guys can have a bit of a dip [in form] because they’re a rookie or they’re young.”
Akoldah Gak was one of those players expected to have dips, but for now his play has been somewhere between steady and superb, seizing the opportunity of a clearer pathway to regular minutes in Roberts’ absence. After failing to win the trust of Jacob Jackomas, logging just 71 minutes on a 3-25 Illawarra team, Gak is looking like a contributor on both ends and an every night rotation player in Cairns. Forde’s words on the day of his signing announcement are ringing loud and true, where he predicted Gak’s impact to be “immediate and eye-opening”.
Check out Gak’s work off the bounce below.
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