Taipans slump to loss
ONCE the foundation of their success, the Taipans must be wondering where their defence has gone.
For the second time this weekend, the Snakes were unable to contain a side in transition and leaked too many points.
In a season where low totals have been the norm, the Taipans are paying the price for their uncharacteristic lack of starch.
On Thursday, it was New Zealand's Cedric Jackson who exploited that, with 32 points, and yesterday afternoon in Melbourne it was Tigers pair Jonny Flynn (20 points) and Chris Goulding (27) who did the same.
They won 83-77 for just their third victory of the season, edging closer to the Taipans on the ladder, who slumped to a 4-8 record.
The heroics of Jamar Wilson, who was back to his best with a vintage 26 points seven rebounds and five assists can't be ignored.
He single-handedly got the Taipans within a point with 60 seconds on the clock, continually finding his way to the basket under all sorts of pressure.
But Adam Ballinger hit a massive three-pointer to change the momentum and Wilson's opposite number Flynn was able to run down the clock to ensure their amazing record over the Taipans in Melbourne remained untarnished.
Incredibly, the Taipans have won only once in 23 trips down south.
Taipans coach Aaron Fearne said it was no hoodoo though, blaming the loss on some fundamental flaws.
"We broke down in our basic team rules," he said.
"We couldn't build any pressure defensively. That's got to be your backbone and that was us last year, but our defensive transition has let us down."
It was the second quarter in particular where that was the case, with Goulding scoring 17 of his points in those 10 minutes in 30-16 stanza that cancelled out the Taipans' great start.
Former Tiger Cam Tragardh started hot for Cairns with 10 first-quarter points but he could only manage four more for the contest.
Goulding, who moved from the now-defunct Gold Coast Blaze to basically replace Tragardh, proved the match-winner though.
The Snakes allowed him to do as he pleased and Goulding obliged with a highlight reel of dunks, lay-ups and fade-aways. Like with Jackson on Thursday, there was no consistent pressure and the usual regimented defence the Taipans are known for was nowhere to be seen.
Allowing the Tigers only 10 points in the third term proved they had the ability to put the clamps on, and it looked as if they might run right past the hosts in the final quarter.
But the damage inflicted in a telling second stanza was too great to overcome.
The Taipans next clash is the New Year's Eve classic against defending premiers New Zealand Breakers at the Cairns Entertainment Centre.
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No backbone: Owen Odigie of the Melbourne Tigers gives Taipan Jamar Wilson a ride on his back. Picture: GEORGE SALPIGTIDIS