A devastating five minutes from Taipan forwards Cam Tragardh and Shane Edwards secured Cairns a 85-71 home victory over the Melbourne Tigers on Friday night.
The game was an arm wrestle for 30 minutes as both teams traded baskets throughout. While Cairns would occasionally held a 4-6 point advantage, Melbourne were always able to close the gap. The score read 64-60 at the final break with the Taipans still holding onto that slight lead.
That was until Tragardh and Edwards took over in the final period with the former hitting fade away jumpers at will and the latter throwing down monster dunks.
It was a disappointing start to an important two-game weekend for Melbourne, who had a genuine chance to crack the top four. They were again out-rebounded in this contest, this time 40-33. The Tigers also committed twice as many turnovers as Cairns (12-6) and allowed the ‘Pans to score over half their points (44) in the paint.
Melbourne will need to recover quickly for what is now a must-win game on Sunday against Adelaide at the Cage.
Final score: Cairns Taipans 85 def Melbourne Tigers 71
Attendance: 4059 at the Cairns Convention Centre