Trio spark Cairns Dolphins to victory
THE mid-week exit of Cairns Dolphins coach Hassan Bin Tahal was cast aside by the team as they pipped the visiting Maroochydore Clippers in their QBL clash at the Fish Tank on Friday night.
Bin Tahal, who took over the job last season, quit on Tuesday and the vacancy was filled by the injured Naomi Pedro.
The Dolphins managed to hold it together for their first win in four games, eventually prevailing 71-62 despite a third-quarter scare. Marlins coach Brad Burdon, who assisted Pedro on the night, insisted there was no bad blood between the good-natured Bin Tahal and the girls.
"It’s a tough gig and I guess when you’re not getting out of it what you want, something needs to change," he said. "They are out of finals contention, so now they’ve got a fresh chance to try and build something."
Burdon urged the Cairns basketball public to get behind the side for the remainder of the
"The bigger the crowds are, the better they play," he said.
"It’s much easier to dig deep in front of a big crowd."
The Dolphins win was built on the performances of Cayla Francis, Juliana Paunovic and Jade Kennedy, who combined silky skills with pure strength and athleticism to shock the Clippers into submission.
It was more of the same in the men’s fixture for the Marlins, who boasted a red-hot team that included former Taipan Dwayne Vale, Spanish-bound Nathan Jawai and current Taipans Aaron Grabau, Kerry Williams and Dusty Rychart. They had racked up a 53-17 lead at halftime, restricting the visitors to just six points in the second quarter.
The Marlins eventually prevailed 87-44, with members of the crowd jokingly discussing the merits of a mercy rule.
"We’re up there in terms of talent. And the way we played on Friday, I don’t think many teams would touch us," Burdon said.
"It was important we were mentally ready to go, and we were.
‘‘These guys are high-level professionals, methodical in their preparation and it’s a privilege to have them in our squad."
Cairns Dolphins 71 (C Francis 25pts, 15rb, 5 asts, J Paunovic 25pts, 7rbs, J Kennedy 12pts, 16rbs) d Maroochydore Clippers 62.
Cairns Marlins 87 (A Grabau 21pts, 5rbs, D Rychart 12pts, 7rbs) d Clippers 44
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Aggressive: Cairns Dolphins Cayla Francis helped to rally the home side in their impressive 71-62 victory over the Maroochydore Clippers on Friday night. Picture: MIKE WATT