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Kelly Gang for 36ers preseason hit-out

REJUVENATED Cairns Taipans will face the Adelaide 36ers next month at Titanium Security Arena, giving local NBL fans an early opportunity to see their new-look team and Mike Kelly’s Orangemen.

From last season’s grand finalists, the 36ers have replaced imports Josh Childress and Shannon Shorter, released centre Matt Hodgson to Brisbane Bullets and lost team backbone Mitch Creek to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.

So the preseason hit-out against the Taipans will give Sixers fans their first look at versatile new frontcourt import Jacob Wiley, sizzling playmaker Adris DeLeon and Aussie tyros Harry Froling and Jack McVeigh.

But just as intriguing are the Taipans under new coach Kelly, who was lead assistant last season with the Melbourne United team which claimed the championship from Adelaide.

As the league’s Best Defensive Player in 1997 and 1998 while with South East Melbourne Magic, it is safe to presume Kelly will have his team playing hard at the defensive end.

But he also will unlock the offensive shackles, and in his new import trio – Devon Hall, Melo Trimble and former NZ Breaker DJ Newbill – he has firepower aplenty.

Cairns also picked up big-man free agent Rob Loe from the Breakers and Perth trio Jarrod Kenny, Dexter Kernich-Drew and Lucas Walker. Mitch Young, who started his NBL career with the Taipans, returns from Brisbane Bullets.

The Taipans retained only frontcourt veterans Nathan Jawai and Alex Loughton, and burgeoning talent Kuany Kuany.

REFUGEES ONCE, PRO BALLERS NOW: Kuany Kuany and Majok Deng, facing off next month.

Last Thursday Cairns had its first home preseason hit-out, beating touring US college Drexel University Dragons 92-76, the Taipans’ Wildcats connection standing tall.

Dexter-Kernich Drew led all scorers with 21 points while Kenny had 18 points and six assists.

Newbill, Kuany and Walker missed the game, Hall and Trimble fresh off the plane.

Kelly’s rotation featured Kernich-Drew, Kenny, Loe, Jawai, Loughton, Young, with another former Taipan, Shaun Bruce (currently training with the team), plus young guns Jakobe Hunter and Joshua Spiers.

The 36ers will host the Kelly Gang at TSA on Tuesday, September 25. Adelaide launches its preseason program with a series from September 7-9 against Perth in WA.

It also next month will compete in the NBL’s Preseason Blitz tournament - venue and dates to be announced shortly - before heading to the US and Salt Lake City to take on South Aussie star Joe Ingles (below) and the NBA’s Utah Jazz on October 5.

“We’re thrilled to be able to give 36ers fans a taste of what to expect for the 2018-19 NBL season,” Sixers chief executive Ben Kavenagh said.

“The night promises to be a lot of fun for families and a great chance for members and fans to reconnect with the club and meet the new faces.”

The match against Cairns will have free admission for juniors, and adult members will have half-price tickets, members having the opportunity to mix with the players post-game.

The starting fives for both teams will be interesting in itself, the 36ers with options of DeLeon, Nathan Sobey and Ramone Moore at the point.

And how new Boomers forward Daniel Johnson leads the young frontline against Cairns’ size and muscle also will be a solid pointer toward Season 2018-19, which tips off for Adelaide at home against Perth on October 11.

The state's long-established WNBL force, MAC Adelaide Lightning, will tip the night off on September 25 with a preseason game from 4.30pm.

Aug 29

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