Cairns Taipans go south to face defector
A FAMILIAR face is ready to inflict more damage on the Taipans tonight in Sydney, but the absence of a fresh one could leave the door ajar for the visiting Snakes.
Ian Crosswhite had turned it on in the back-half of this season for the Kings, scoring 27 points and pulling in 13 rebounds against Melbourne last month.
Twice this season he has returned to Cairns and left a winner, proving influential in both clashes.
He has averaged 10 points and almost eight rebounds a game since leaving Cairns, but it has come as no surprise to his former coach Aaron Fearne.
"He's playing great basketball right now, and I knew the importance of what he was to this program, there were just a few people around here that didn't," he said.
"It's not like we didn't want him, he just chose to go to Sydney and it is what it is."
Alex Loughton, who shared the captaincy with Crosswhite last season, is hoping to get one back on the big centre.
"He's been hungry this year, it's good to see and he always wants to put a foot forward against his old club," Loughton said.
"If we can take it to him early and get him in foul trouble, it'll be good for us."
Both teams suffered losses in double overtime last weekend, but Sydney fared worse, losing first-year import guard Corin Henry for the season with a wrist injury.
If Cairns point Jamar Wilson can expose that absence, it could prove the difference in what is more or less a must-win game.
Sitting on six wins with eight games remaining, the Taipans need to win at least six more to be in the top-four conversation.
Following tonight's game, the team back up 24 hours later in Cairns against the Adelaide 36ers.
For Cairns, Dusty Rychart remains on the sideline with a leg injury, with Shaun Bruce and Matt Andronicos both a chance of game time in at least one of this round's two games.
Taipans fans are encouraged to wear orange to work today as part of the Orange Fridays concept.
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On a high: Kings talls are ready for the Taipans tonight. From left: Ian Crosswhite (210cm), Darnell Lazare (203cm), Graeme Dann (202cm) and Tom Garlepp (203cm).