Cairns Taipans build core strength for 2013
THE Taipans could find themselves on the bottom of the ladder after this weekend but their long-term recruitment strategy means crisis talks are nowhere to be heard at their Aumuller Stheadquarters.
Five players will remain on contract in Cairns until at least next season, along with coach Aaron Fearne.
It is a marked improvement considering just three players Alex Loughton, Aaron Grabau and Dusty Rychart remain from the side that played for Cairns in an NBL grand final series two seasons ago.
Club boss Mark Beecroft said it was comforting to have a ready-made core for their next tilt, something he says has been the key to rivals New Zealand and Perth's long-term success.
"That was part of our learnings from two seasons ago and it's obvious that the best teams have been able to keep their core players," he said.
Import Jamar Wilson, forward Alex Loughton and rookies Cam Gliddon and Clint Steindl are all contracted to play next season, while coach Aaron Fearne and Cam Tragardh are locked in for another two.
"I'm happy with that mix of contracted and not contracted," Beecroft said.
"We know we'll have some ups and downs but we've made an inherent investment in guys like Cam Gliddon and Clint Steindl and we are starting to see their consistency."
A packed house watched as the Taipans clocked up another home loss on New Year's Eve, 66-61 to two-time defending champions New Zealand.
It leaves them with just four wins from 13 starts, as many as strugglers Townsville and Melbourne.
To qualify for the finals a team generally needs about 15 wins, which means 11 wins from the next 15 games.
Facing Perth, who sit second with a 9-4 record, will be another tough prospect for the Snakes but Beecroft refused to give up on the year and insisted there was no extra pressure on players or coaching staff to start performing.
"It's far from over; there's no line through the season yet," he said. "Like Aaron Fearne said after the game, it's on to the next one."
Beecroft hoped Monday's loss had not turned off fans, who flocked to the annual New Year's Eve showcase.
"It was a great atmosphere and it's historically one of our biggest nights. I think we're so close to turning it around and Perth will provide a good challenge."
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Long term: Cameron Tragardh in on contract until 2014-15.