NBL 2014/15 Round 1: Taipans steal early season victory in Adelaide
Photo Credit: Cairns Taipans
The Cairns Taipans came to Adelaide looking to secure an early victory in the brand new 2014/15 season and that they did, thanks to some hot shooting and monster rebounding. The Adelaide 36ers, to their credit, never looked like they were out of the contest until early on in the final period. Despite that, key efforts from Taipans key players meant they came out with a very comfortable 97-87 win.
Both teams sought to pressure the ball and break out in transition off opposition miscues, leading to a pace that was reflected in the final score. It was messy at time for both squads, with full court pressure seeming to cause havoc, forcing 14 turnovers each for the game.
Cairns absolutely dominated the glass with a 41 to 29 advantage, with huge efforts from Cameron Gliddon, Torrey Craig and Cameron Tragardh who each finished with 7 boards each on the night.
Craig was a force to be reckoned with in the second quarter, spurring the Taipans to a halftime lead. He dropped 17 points in just under 13 minutes in the opening half, eventually rounding out his total to 19 after severely cooling off following early fouls in the third stanza. His outside shot was scorching hot -- going 3-5 from beyond the arc -- and never looked like he was going to miss a shot during the run. He provided a huge punch off the bench and will be looking to fill that role throughout the season.
When Craig committed early fouls in the third, Scottie Wilbekin stepped in to provide a steady scoring output, including an and one midway through the quarter at a time when the 36ers were threatening to change the lead in their favour. His long range shots weren't dropping, however he made timely buckets any other way you can imagine. It didn't seem like Craig’s efforts would be matched, but Wilbekin proved to be the real x-factor for Cairns in sealing the deal.
Speaking on his own performance and that of his team post-game, Wilbekin said:
I think we did a better job in the second half of transition defence, playing together as a team and getting good shots and buckling down when we needed to.
Jamar Wilson had big shoes to fill coming onto the 36ers roster -- from Cairns, no less -- after the departure of Gary Ervin during the offseason, but he looked comfortable setting the scoring pace for the team. Adam Gibson will be the calming force in the backcourt, looking to glue the new look Sixers together, but Wilson will most definitely be the spark plug and his effort was outstanding. He ended with 22pts on 8-19 shooting, with 4 assists and 5 rebounds, a solid first outing for the new import.
Mitch Creek proved to be an outside threat for the Sixers, something that wasn't a real big part of his game last season, shooting at a 60% clip on five shots. He provided a little bit of everything, finishing with 16 points plus leading the team in rebounds. Look for Creek in weeks to come as a player who might turn the corner and prove to be a great asset for the team.
In the end Cairns benefited from two great individual efforts and a cohesiveness in the second half which Adelaide just didn't have, but signs were positive for both squads despite the result.
Cairns Taipans 97 (Wilbekin 23, Craig 19, Loughton 15)
Adelaide 36ers 87 (Wilson 22, Creek 16, Petrie 13)
@ Adelaide Arena