Jawai has fans in frenzy in Cairns
IT was a contest for about five minutes, then it just turned into an exhibition.
The return of Nathan Jawai – of Boomers, NBA and Euroleague fame – to the Marlins had the packed house buzzing and the team did not disappoint.
They piled on 106 points, 61 by half-time, to Gladstone’s 67 in their QBL clash.
While the mesmorisingly massive Jawai only scored 12 of those, he certainly did enough to appease the crowd’s yearning for entertainment.
He brought the home crowd of more than 1000 to their feet when he was subbed on and the roof lifted when he threw down a big one-handed jam later – that he labelled ‘‘normal’’ in the second half.
In defence he was so intimidating that his unfortunate Gladstone opponents were fumbling the ball just because they knew he was behind them.
And the 208cm talent showed off his silky skills with three sharp assists and some nice moves under the rim.
Dwayne Vale and Aaron Grabau, good mates of Jawai, who were part of the national championship team of 2007, had 23 and 30 points respectively as they found red-hot form from beyond the arc and even some space under the basket for some cheap extras.
James Comino and Kerry Williams did not have the stats on the board, but their busy work ensured the point scorers got plenty of open looks.
Grabau scored the first 12 points of the game and had 6-of-9 three-point shooting in a confidence boosting display ahead of the NBL season.
His output could have been much higher, but coach Brad Burdon was in a charitable mood.
He gave the entire bench an extended run and did not even call a time-out for the entire 40 minutes.
They now have a 4-4 record and sit mid-table with a trip to the unbeaten Rockhampton and Gladstone coming up.
Jawai will be on that trip and is keen to contribute again.
"I’ll be playing and doing my best as long as I’m here," he said.
"I only get two months at home each year so it’s great to catch up with everyone – see the family and friends."
Jawai was mobbed by fans after the game, but enjoyed the chance to sign autographs and pose for photos.
"I didn’t know what sort of following I had here, it’s pretty great to see," he said.
"I’m keen to go down to Rocky and try and get another win up."
The only thing that didn’t go to script was the Dolphins’ result.
Up against a champion side led by quality pair Jess Bibby and Nat Hurst, the Dolphins led 54-40 at half-time.
That lead was maintained until the late stages of the third quarter. Then they froze, scoring just six points in the final stanza to end up losing 97-73.
Gladstone 97 (Hurst 29pts, 15rbs, Bibby 28pts, 8rbs) d Dolphins 73 (Francis 23pts, 18rbs, Paunovic 23 pts)
Marlins 106 (Grabau 30pts, Vale 23) d Gladstone 67 (Gaines 17, Silverman 14)
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Packed 'em in: Nathan Jawai had the fans in a frenzy when he unleashed his silky skills for the Cairns Marlins as they trounced Gladstone at the Bendigo Bank Basketball Centre on Saturday night. Pictures: MIKE WATT