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Sport Taipans to welcome back star NBL rookie

05:35  19 january  2020
05:35  19 january  2020 Source:   msn.com

Breakers NBL winning streak comes to an end

  Breakers NBL winning streak comes to an end New Zealand Breakers five game winning streak is over following a 85-79 loss to the Taipans in their Australian NBL clash in Cairns. The Taipans fifth straight win lifts Cairns to third while the Breakers are sixth, outside the top four playoff spots.The Snakes' have a 12-9 record and are now in line for their first playoff action since the 2016/17 season.The Breakers led 78-71 with half a quarter to play, but Cairns fought back to close out the game on a 14-1 scoring run.Taipans coach Mike Kelly said this scalp was massive in terms of their playoff push."That was a massive game tonight.

The Cairns Taipans are an Australian professional basketball team based in Cairns, Queensland. The Taipans compete in the National Basketball League ( NBL ) and play their home games at the Cairns Convention Centre, known colloquially as "The Snakepit".

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Cairns coach Mike Kelly has a problem on his hands and it has nothing to do with his red-hot NBL side.

CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 18: Kouat Noi of the Taipans warms up before the start of the round 16 NBL match between the Cairns Taipans and the Adelaide 36ers at the Cairns Convention Centre on January 18, 2020 in Cairns, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)© Getty CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 18: Kouat Noi of the Taipans warms up before the start of the round 16 NBL match between the Cairns Taipans and the Adelaide 36ers at the Cairns Convention Centre on January 18, 2020 in Cairns, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

The 13-10 Taipans are flying on the back of a 6-1 run since Boxing Day and all but guaranteed themselves a finals berth after beating the Adelaide 108-91 on Saturday night.

Making the hot streak all the more impressive is that the Taipans have been knocking up wins without the services of star rookie Kouat Noi, who injured his ankle on Boxing Day against South East Melbourne.

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The NBL is the pre-eminent professional men's basketball league in Australia and New Zealand. The league was founded in 1979 and is currently contested by eight teams; seven from Australia and one fro.

The young gun is expected to return to the Cairns line-up on Australia Day against the Phoenix in Melbourne but Kelly admitted he was unsure how to use the forward in the remaining fixtures.

"We definitely have to recognise that this group is playing really well and we have to bring Kouat back in a way that's going to lift this group higher. We're figuring that out," he said.

"We'll test the best way to do that but I'm really excited to bring him back because he's a great teammate, he's a really good basketball player and this group can always get better."

Noi was averaging more than 11 points and six rebounds per match before injuring his ankle and was a regular starter for Cairns in his debut season

His talent was highlighted when he sunk 22 points against the ladder-leading Sydney Kings in early December.

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The 2019–20 Cairns Taipans season is the 21st season for the Cairns Taipans in the NBL , and their second season under the guidance of Head Coach Mike Kelly.

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Kelly said Noi's fitness after missing a month of action would not be a problem in his return.

"He's 21 or 22 years old so I'm not too worried about his fitness," the coach said.

"He could probably have two training (sessions) and he's going to be in better shape than some of the older guys.

"I feel good about working him in with this group."

The Taipans had the game wrapped up against the 36ers with five minutes left on the clock, but Kelly held his nerve before rotating the reserves in late in the game.

He said that maintaining a big margin against the Adelaide was in the back of his mind.

"These guys (starters) were having no problem - they were very good at breaking the press; the pressure everywhere ... but percentage matters," Kelly said.

"It's that balance between giving young guys minutes and percentage as it goes towards finals.

"I was glad that some of the young guys could get minutes tonight because they've been great.

"Those guys deserve minutes as much as anybody."

Taipans edge Phoenix in NBL thriller .
Cairns have moved one step closer to a NBL semi-final berth after withstanding a desperate comeback from South East Melbourne to win by one point.The Phoenix recovered from a slow start on Sunday at Melbourne's State Basketball Centre to lead by five points nearing halftime, before the Taipans outscored them 23-5 either side of the main break to take the upper hand.

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