Taipans and Perth produce another blockbuster
For the third time this season, the Perth Wildcats and Cairns Taipans have produced a memorable NBL contest on Thursday night in the Far North.
In their first meeting, the Snakes blew out the Wildcats to stun the entire NBL and in their second match-up, Cairns looked all but dead and buried before they made a crazy comeback in the last term to make it 2-0 against Perth.
On Thursday night in Cairns, it was an absorbing battle for four quarters, in one of the highest quality contests the league has seen so far this season.
As they turned for home, the Snakes led by four and looked in control but a 9-0 run from Perth to open the last term shifted the momentum the way of the reigning champions.
The game was in the balance with under two minutes to play as big-time performer Terrico White banked in an unlikely triple as the shot clock expired to hand the Wildcats a four-point buffer.
On the next play down the court, Bryce Cotton defended DJ Newbill well to get a Perth stop and then walked into a lay-up at the other end to all but secure the victory.
Co-captain Newbill has been huge for Cairns this season but failed on a couple of attempts late to keep the hosts within touch.
A Scott Machado three with 25 seconds to play would make it a game again before the men in away white would hold on through a Cotton lay-up and pair of free-throws.
White came up big for Perth with a 21 points in the 88-84 win for the Wildcats.
It is the first time Perth have defeated the Snakes this season in three attempts.
Earlier in the evening, the usual pass friendly Machado was in attack mode from the opening seconds.
The American guard penetrated the bucket and had success around the rim on the way three early baskets.
Perth led by as much as nine early on before the Snakes dragged it back to just three at the opening break.
The hosts opened the second stanza on a 13-6 run, highlighted by a Cameron Oliver three on four minutes played, forcing Trevor Gleeson into a time-out.
It was Oliver again who almost lifted the roof off the stadium, landing a massive one-handed alley-oop from teammate Machado to extended Cairns' advantage to nine late in the second term.
Import forward Oliver only missed one first-half shot, leading the game with 16 points at the interval, to go with six rebounds.
Machado's huge assist numbers does not look like slowing up at any time soon, handing out another 12.
Oliver landed another double-double to continue his impressive season.
Co-captain Nate Jawai was on the score sheet to start the game but did not enter until the second term with the flu.
The centre spent time away from the bench in the opening quarter as he dealt with his sickness.
Jawai did not look himself when on the court and was obviously battling through his
It is a weekend double-header again for the 7-8 Snakes, travelling to Melbourne Arena to play SEM Phoenix for the first time ever in an NBL game on Sunday.