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NBL 2014/15 SF Game 1: Cairns grind out victory despite two point quarter
A dramatic opening game in what looms to be a tense series has the Cairns Taipans controlling their fate after securing game one of their Semi-Final's encounter against the Perth Wildcats.
The 71-64 victory inside the Cairns Convention Centre certainly had its ebbs and flows, including the Snakes registering just two points for the entire third quarter.
After claiming their first ever minor premiership, the Taipans looked very tight to open the game before blowing the game wide open in the second term, leaning on star Scottie Wilbekin.
With Wilbekin (23 points, 10 rebounds) in firm control of the tempo, the home fans were poised to go home happy campers with a one-nil series lead over their opponents.
However, a remarkable third term shut out had the visitors right back in the hunt, securing an 18-2 run throughout the third stanza.
With Shawn Redhage ruled out and Greg Hire injuring himself early on, captain Damian Martin (7 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists) was right in the thick of it swiping six steals to inspire the 'Cats defensive intensity to have the team up three points heading into the final term.
Cairns were able to recoup and track back their thoughts to recapture the lead early in the fourth after an 8-0 run.
Alex Loughton and Cameron Tragardh were used down the stretch to keep the lead just out of reach from the Wildcats, with the Tragardh finishing with 17 points and seven rebounds.
Despite Perth's struggles in the second quarter, the combination of both Martin and Jermaine Beal (20 points, 4 rebounds) had their transition game in full swing. Centre's Matt Knight and Tom Jervis again both started, however this time weren't clicking, shooting a combined 4-17 for nine points.
The Wildcats' injury list certainly hasn't helped their roster, having to basically play seven players on rotation while the home side were able to run nine deep.
These two teams now travel west for game two at the Perth Arena on Sunday in a do or die clash for the 'Cats.
Cairns Taipans 71 (Wilbekin 23, Tragardh 16, Weigh 11)
Perth Wildcats 64 (Beal 20, Daniels 14, Wagstaff 12)
@ Cairns Convention Centre