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Taipans complete early season sweep

CAIRNS Taipans tonight completed an extraordinary early season sweep of the 2019 Grand Finalists when they comfortably added Melbourne's prized scalp to Perth's with a well-executed 90-85 home win.

Import playmaker Scott Machado, who replaced last year's Taipans club MVP Melo Trimble when he switched clubs to United, led from the front with 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as Cairns turned a 13-point deficit into a 12-point lead in another remarkable performance.

Unlike their go-to-whoa 23-point belting of the Wildcats in Perth last round, this time the Orangemen found themselves in a deep early hole until they tightened their defensive resolve, holding Melbourne to a meagre 14 second-quarter points.

United centre Shawn Long. with 10 points, provided a tremendous inside target throughout the opening quarter but it actually was 3-pointers from Mitch McCarron, Chris Goulding and Trimble which separated Melbourne from the hosts on the scoreboard.

Nate Jawai, in his 100th game for Cairns, came in and offered a positive inside target but was exposed defensively as Melbourne took a 31-19 lead into the first break.

But that's where it all changed and by halftime, the Taipans had whittled the 12-point deficit to four, Machado (pictured) with a sizzling steal from Trimble to close the half.

In the third, Jarrod Kenny was ejected, forcing Machado to play more minutes than anticipated and he responded by setting a further defensive tone.

By the last break, Cairns was ahead 67-66 and had Cam Oliver on his way to a 17-point, 11-rebound double, with two assists, two steals and a block.

And as always when it mattered in the fourth quarter as Cairns pulled clear, DJ Newbill was at his best, finishing with 16 points.

Jawai compiled his 18 points in just 14 minutes on court as Cairns made recent club history by overturning its biggest quarter-time deficit to win any game since January, 2012. Who says they need great starts?

CENTURION: Nate Jawai logged his 100th NBL game tonight for the Orange.

Melbourne simply ran out of options and could not drop shots when they most were needed.

Long finished with an imposing 21-point, 18-rebound double but was less effective after his 10-point first quarter. Goulding struggled to find his range, McCarron worked hard for his 17 points and eight rebounds but down the stretch when they needed threes to pull back from 12 down, Melbourne settled for a number of not-terribly-smart plays.

They paid the price as the Orange revelled in a further quality victory.

CAIRNS TAIPANS 90 (Jawai 18, Oliver 17, Newbill 16, Machado 14, Deng 10; Oliver 11 rebs; Machado 8 assts) d MELBOURNE UNITED 85 (Long, Trimble 21, McCarron 17, Goulding 10; Long 18 rebs; Goulding 5 assts) at The Orange Grove, Cairns Convention Centre. 

Oct 28

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.