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Star-crossed: Will we ever get to see McCall and Machado light it up?


“I put it on them really to gauge where they can work best on the floor and where they can find each other,” he said.“It helps that we have particular staff who play around them and space the floor, whether it’s shooters or bigs that we get them to target.”Viewers got a taste what can happen when Tahjere McCall and Scott Machado ball out in the same 40 minute span against the Bullets in round 16.Shooting guard McCall sunk a team-high 21 points and five steals in the game, while point guard Machado notched 14 points and 11 rebounds in the 10-point win.Forde has hinted that this is only the beginning of what the two can accomplish, with Machado still on the road to recovery from his early season heel injury.Like the rest of Cairns’ roster, McCall and Machado have found it hard to generate scoring runs, and meaningful offensive possessions.After the team’s win over Brisbane, 31-year-old Machado said his acclimatising to his defensive star teammate’s energy was making progress.“I think Tahj has a high IQ and I think I’m the one adjusting to how he plays a little bit more,” Machado said.“At the same time it’s like a task, but I like his IQ – I think he does the right things and he’s hungry to play the game and has a passion to win.“I like that aspect of him at all times and I’m just taking a back seat and flowing with it honestly.“He’s just playing hard all game, you can see it through the fourth (quarter) through the deflections and the steals.”The Taipans will hope their aggressiveness can roll on to Friday night, as they host a South East Melbourne Phoenix side desperate for a win to stay finals-relevant.Machado took a “knock to the toe” according to Forde, and was limited in practice early in the week.Forde said Stephen Zimmerman (knee) will be managed in training throughout the week with hopes he’ll suit up for round 17.’I’m not a bum’: Machado out-works Bullets in season best performanceAfter one of his worst career games, Taipans star Scott Machado looked like the Machado of old to put on his best game this season against the Bullets.He and teammate Tahjere McCall led their squad to a 98-88 to sweep Brisbane this season, seemingly turning the tables on the storylines that plagued their NBL22 campaign.Machado had zero points against the 36ers on Friday night, but bounced back with a double-double notching 14 points and 11 assists.“I just know I’m not a bum honestly,” the 31-year-old said after the game.“The other night, I never felt like that before and I don’t want to put it on nobody else but myself and I know nobody else can fix it but myself.“You can have all types of conversations but I know who I am and I know what I’m capable of doing.”Rather than bend, Cairns did the breaking against their intrastate rivals, looking aggressive on every possession and attacking the loose ball the entire game.Turnovers were down (10) and points were up with every starting player for the team entering double-digit totals.Brisbane answered where they could, but the Taipans failed to giveaway a game they started with a 20-point quarter time lead – their biggest lead in the 40-minute form.Sniper Bul Kuol also had his typical success from three after dropping eight of the Bullets in their last match up.The 25-year-old had 17 points, and shot 100 per cent (2-2) from the perimeter.Challenge bonanzaRiding on a streak of five successful coach’s challenges in a row, Adam Forde thought he’d try his luck against the Bullets.The Taipans head coach made three more successful challenges to be the first NBL coach to do so in one game.“A lot of it I just rely on the playing group,” Forde said.“There’s a couple of times too where you can see it from the sidelines and you’re pretty adamant on it.“I try and go with the immediate reaction of the playing group, then I‘ll wait five seconds … if Scott or Keanu or someone are still adamant I should review it, let’s review it.”Foul frenzyIt would not be a good Sunshine Stoush without a few frank conversations and fouls spritzed about.After being the Bullets leading man for most of the game, Jason Cadee (12 points) was sent packing after fouling out in the third quarter.Fellow Brisbane starter Lamar Patterson (12 points) was also forced on to the bench after fouling out in the fourth.His usual firey self all game long; Anthony Drmic (14 points) fouled out in the fourth too leaving the Bullets’ playing roster scant.The Taipans weren’t free from foul trouble either, with athletic tall Keanu Pinder (10 points, 9 rebounds) sent out early in the fourth, and Kul joining him towards the end of the game.Cairns will host a struggling South East Melbourne Phoenix in the Snakepit on Friday night.Machado blanked as Taipans seek answers for woeful offenceThe Taipans were handed another savaging at the hands of Adelaide on Friday night, with the team’s offensive woes dropping to a season-low.With both teams starving for a win, both side’s exchanged blows in the first half.However, the Snakes all-but collapsed in the second half, only conjuring 18 points to get belted 83-57.Scott Machado’s cold form also reached sub-zero; the 31-yeard-old point guard had zero points from 12 attempts in 27 minutes.“It’s been a rough patch for him, we’re trying to get him going,” Taipans head coach Adam Forde said.“His dissappointment outweighs anybody else’s disappointment and he feels it.”Machado wasn’t the only one failing at the rim, Kouat Noi and Majok Deng only got together two points apiece.Bench players Jarrod Kenny and Jordan Ngatai also didn’t score a point.As the season winds to a close, it might be hard to find positives.However, the skill of both young guns Keanu Pinder and Bul Kuol give cause for optimism, with guard Tahjere McCall stating the former was the only player to show up against the 36ers.“Besides maybe Keanu, no one played good basketball,” the 27-year-old said.With the Taipans playing for pride with finals chances all but gone, the team will look to finding some semblance of chemistry to give fans optimism for the future.“It’s only a loss if you don’t learn from it – we’re doing a lot of learning this year,” Forde said.The Taipans play Brisbane Bullets on Sunday.Machado quiet as Snakes make late push against the KingsThe battle for the top four is warming up as the playoffs near, and the Sydney Kings look white hot after dispatching the Taipans again at the Cairns Convention Centre.After the Snakes looked dejected following an embarrassing belting from Tassie on Friday, Sydney came in from the top rope to take them down 86-77.The Kings appear to have well and truly hit their stride as the club’s win streak continues, having an answer for everything the Taipans threw at them defensively.Even in the absence of Xavier Cooks, Sydney proved they did not need their do-it-all forward to work the floor.“We’re a confident group, the last time we played without X (Cooks) was the second half of the Brissy (Bullets) game where they ejected him and we gave them 61 points,” Kings head coach Chase Buford said.“I’d be lying to you if I didn’t have a little anxiety heading into the game about how we were going to guard and defend.“This guy next to me (Makur Maker) was terrific, I think he set the tone, protected the rim (and) rebounded right from the get-go.“I think he made (Stephen) Zimmerman’s life really tough.”A floundering Snakes team had trouble stopping bullish Kings guard Jaylen Adams and a hungry Jarell Martin from having their way on offence.This further exacerbated a struggling Cairns offence, who looked gassed each possession as the visitors made them work for every point.A week out from dropping 26 points against Sydney, star Taipans point guard Scott Machado had all sorts of problems generating points and making any impact.The 31-year-old could not sink a three from six attempts, finishing with seven points.“We’ve gotta try and keep putting him in positions where he can excel,” Taipans head coach Adam Forde said.“We’re gonna support him and give him everything he needs to bring his mojo back.“We’ve got an outstanding medical team, we’ve got an outstanding high performance team … he’ll get there. I’m confident he’ll get there.”Three’s companyThe Kings had an impressive night shooting from distance, sinking 42 per cent of their shots (12 from 28).The same could not be said for the Taipans, who launched bricks aplenty to only score four threes from 21 attempts at the half.Cairns managed to pick things up from three to get up 26 per cent by the final buzzer.Bandages come offFor the first time in what feels like a long time, the Taipans had most of its playing staff on deck.Key defensive piece Tahjere McCall was back in action after spraining his hand against the Kings last week.The 27-year-old directed traffic and applied his speedy brand of pressure on the Kings – McCall finished with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists.In his 200th game, Bamaga big Nate Jawai made his return to cheers from the Cairns crowd after being out since January with various injuries.Bench ballersKings bench players Ian Clark, Thomas Vodanovich and Angus Glover all made their presence known in their team’s win with 12, seven and five points respectively.On the other side, Majok Deng was moved to the bench for the first time this season.The veteran shooter still had an impact on the game to finish with 20 points.The Taipans will hit the road to take on the 36ers in Adelaide, while the Kings will venture to Melbourne to face the Phoenix.’It’s embarrassing’: Forde lets loose on team, self after latest Taipans collapseThe boisterous cheers in the Cairns Convention Centre were quickly silenced by a veritable scoring frenzy from a Tasmania JackJumpers vying for playoff contention.After starting composed, the Cairns Taipans fell asleep at the wheel to lose to Tassie 85-69 in an Indigenous Round clash.While they took a quarter to warm up, the JackJumpers quickly changed tunes as the game went on to make seemingly every shot they made.By the final buzzer, the visitors finished an impressive 13-30 (43 per cent) from long range.“We kind of settled the ship there in the first two or three minutes,” JackJumpers head coach Scott Roth said.“I thought these guys were very disciplined, very solid, (and) stuck to our gameplan.“When the ball finds life for us, this is a fun team to watch.”Scoring was spread well across the JackJumpers, with guard Josh Adams proving hard to stop at the key as he rolled to a game-high 20 points.Defensively, Tasmania – without tall Will Magnay – had a hard time answering Taipans centre Stephen Zimmerman in the paint.The 25-year-old Tennessean finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, but again struggled at the charity stripe going one from five.Fellow tall and comeback player of the year candidate Keanu Pinder tried as he did to keep energy high, however he was fouled out before the third quarter even ended, further dampening spirits in the Snakepit.Taipans head coach Adam Forde did not hold back on his team after the game.“It’s embarrassing,” he said.“After everything we rolled out today with the Bamaga footage and our Indigenous Round jerseys, it was embarrassing.“I take a huge part of responsibility for that, I feel embarrassed for our support which was outstanding by the Cairns community.”More points, no problemsFrom shooting threes like the 2017 Golden State Warriors, to showing eagerness on offensive rebounds (10), the JackJumpers had little trouble lighting up the scoreboard after the first quarter.Former Taipan Fabijan Krslovic did his part for Tassie, showcasing his poise from all angles and drumming up a season-high 13 points and four rebounds.“It was good putting together a good performance,” the 26-year-old said.“Grinding teams down is kind of our M.O and when you do that it’s really fun to be a part of it and (we’re) just really special top to bottom – everyone contributed.” Self-inflicted second quarter woesThe second quarter was a microcosm of the problems that have rattled the Taipans’ season.In front of a hungry home crowd, the Snakes only scrounged together nine points offensively in the second term.As well as missing many a shot, the Taipans lost plenty of first-quarter momentum to careless turnovers.Defensively, the side gave the JackJumpers all the space they needed to sink shot after shot to take the lead and the drivers seat from the home team.From Russia with loveJust hours before tipping off in Cairns, the JackJumpers announced they were parting ways with Russian Next Star Nikita Mikhailovskii.The team stated the 21-year-old has been released from his contract and will depart Australia to return to Russia.Limited for parts of the season with injuries, Mikhailovskii only clocked up about six minutes of court time with Tasmania.The JackJumpers will head back to the Apple Isle to host the Illawarra Hawks on Sunday, with the Taipans staying home to take on the Sydney Kings later that afternoon.Kings hang ten on Taipans after Machado, Zim have massive gameTHE Taipans needed to be pitch-perfect in the Kings’ castle on Sunday, but Sydney showed why they’re the hottest team in the NBL in the 98-88 win.Snakes import star Scott Machado looked like the Machado of old against Sydney, the 31-year-old marquee point guard putting up a game-high 26 points in his best outing for some time. But even that big effort wasn’t enough to stop a Kings outfit which has won six straight games after starting the year 5-7.“I’ve said this a couple of times that there’s key indicators that show we’re trending in the direction we want to go in,” said Cairns coach Adam Forde. “The reality is that we need to start playing four quarters and executing at both ends of the floor and doing so on a regular basis.”Cairns had no answer for tall Kings forward Xavier Cooks, who ran riot in the paint to finish with 23 points and 12 rebounds. When it wasn’t Cooks, the hot hands of Jaylen Adams (21 points) found the bucket many a time, particularly from three, where he shot a wild 71 per cent (five from seven).The Taipans were without injured trio Tahj McCall, Mirko Djeric and Nate Jawai.Zim’s big day outSnakes centre Stephen Zimmerman took more strides in what may be his best game this season.The 25-year-old finished the game with a double-double, with 16 points, 13 rebounds as well as five assists.“I think you see it too now with defences collapsing in a bit more on him,” Forde said.“He’s getting more and more comfortable with it and we want to try and find better ways to find him in the box.“The moment you start getting good at something, teams start to adjust and that’s what Sydney did – they collapsed in and get us to shoot some threes.” HomecomingThe match was Forde’s first against his former team in Sydney, and while he downplayed any kind of bitterness between the two sides, his team’s play did all the talking.“Credit to Cairns, they came out and played well,” Kings coach Chase Buford said. “They hit some shots, got to the line really well, (and) did a good job on the offensive boards.”Taipans rocked by another massive spate of injuries prior to Kings matchThe Taipans have suffered major blows to their season yet again, with two key players sidelined for the team’s critical clash with the Sydney Kings on Sunday.Defensive key and notable contributor Tahjere McCall has suffered a sprain in his hand, the Taipans confirmed.After a few quality games of shooting, bench player Mirko Djeric will be out for about four weeks due to a quad injury sustained during the side’s loss to Melbourne United.Training player Robbie Heath will also not join the team in Sydney as he deals with an illness.The team has confirmed Jarrod Kenny will return to play after a few weeks out of action with a back injury.Development player Brayden Inger and injury replacement signing Marshall Nelson will also be available for an understaffed Taipans roster. Tip-off against the Kings will be at 2pm AEST.Shooting ratio to get Taipans out of scoring woesAN optimistic Taipans team is certain of one thing: shoot the ball and points will come.The Snakes are in the process of turning around their 4-8 start to the season, but in recent games have been struck by nightmarish shooting droughts that have costed potential wins.This is particularly evident from the three, in which Cairns ranks dead-last in the league with a success percentage of 29.7.In the side’s latest loss to Melbourne United, the Taipans shot 20 per cent from the perimeter.Defensive-minded coach Adam Forde was not ready to set off alarm bells just yet, preferring to trust the process and believe if his team continues to make shots, the scoring will increase. “We’re still trying to address some things where I want guys to shoot,” he said.“One of our biggest flaws is we’re selfless and we’re trying to pass it on when it’s not there“Take the shot, take the right shot, take the predictable shot and live with it.“There’s a lot of good possessions that just don’t drop, so don’t mistake a missed shot as a bad possession.“There’s a couple of times where we’re uncontested, wide open, and the shot doesn’t drop.”Defensively, the Taipans have improved after their losing skid, something Forde believed would be the difference-maker in wins and losses once a few more balls start falling in his team’s favour.“There’s not too many times where I’ve known a top four defensive team to not be up near that finals category, but this highlights those deficiencies on the offensive end,” he said.Talented Taipans scorer Majok Deng – who celebrated his 29th birthday on Wednesday – said the darkest days of the season were behind the team as long as they continued to look up.“We really hate losing, we’re all sore losers,” Deng said.“To get a win, you can’t dwell on the past, we have to move on.“We’re doing a good job of helping each other, picking each other up … the only way up is to move to the next game.”In his last four games, Deng has only sunk two three-pointers from 13 attempts. In spite of this, he tops the Taipans in terms of average points per game with 14.54 – 16th in the entire league.“I’ve been struggling from the three point line for the last month I’d say,” the Taipans starting forward said.“The team keeps encouraging me to keep shooting. Fordey too … seeing that I’ve been in the league for about six years he said ‘I don’t care if you drop all 10, just keep shooting and no doubt the 11th one’s gonna fall’.“You know me, I’ll keep shooting them.”The Taipans will travel to Sydney on Sunday to take on the Kings.Taipans challenge unstoppable United in Snakepit showdownMelbourne United had their supremacy threatened by a venomous Cairns Taipans squad, but the league’s best team looked to Chris Goulding and their other superstars to pull out a satisfying victory.After starting slow, the Taipans found their stride on offence to give chase to Melbourne throughout most of the second half.This was led by an elusive Tahjere McCall, who looked back in form after a couple of quiet games to post a 16-point, six-rebound game.However, key mental lapses in the fourth quarter by the Taipans gave United all the fuel they needed to take a 89-73 win.Ever-aggressive Melbourne defensive star Matthew Dellavedova showcased his skill in perimeter defence against Cairns, who had a hard time getting any consistency from three.The 31-year-old notched five assists and 10 points.Good as GouldingWhile the Snakepit has not been the most hospitable for Goulding, his round 13 visit to the Tropics told a different story.The 33-year-old finally scored more than 20 points at the convention centre, looked as comfortable as he ever has from three (5-8) to finish the game with a team-high 21 points.“Through that third period where it got stuck a little bit, he wanted the basketball and that’s the beauty of Chris,” United head coach Dean Vickerman said after the game.“He senses his moments in the game to try and knock a team out or if we’re down and we need him, he just wants the basketball.“Him being aggressive with his cut, him being a threat to shoot the three ball often opens it up for other people.”Pinder pressureComeback player of the year candidate Keanu Pinder showed why he’s one of the valuable sixth men in the league.The 26-year-old gave little in the paint and had quick hands on the rebound, tallying nine rebounds, four solid blocks as well as a nifty 14 points.“There were some errors he made, there were some hustle plays he made,” Taipans head coach Adam Forde said.“But the good thing now is any of the errors we all make, we do a better job of moving on and I think Keanu’s been real mature in doing so.“He had some hustle, he had some rebounds, he had some blocks, he got after it – that’s what we need from him.”Pinder did take a beating on the night, including a nasty fall after United forward Jack White landed on his leg.Towering troubleUnited’s key tall Jo Lual-Acuil did not join his team for their trip to the Far North, staying in Melbourne as he awaits the birth of his second child.Next Star Ariel Hukporti made the start at centre for United, making some key plays in the paint on both sides for his team.“It was definitely good to play in the starting five with Chris, Delly, and Caleb (Agada),” he said.However, the 19-year-old got a little too eager on defence, ultimately getting fouled out of the game with 5 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.United will head home to face the Brisbane Bullets on Saturday, while the Taipans will travel to Sydney to take on the Kings on Sunday.Forde happy with 30-minute workload as Machado raises Taipans over BulletsIT was a heart-stopping victory, but the Taipans don’t plan on popping the champagne just yet as they look to dig themselves out of a losing skid.The Snakes gave their fans at the Cairns Convention Centre plenty of heart scares, but superstar guard Scott Machado proved himself the hero of the hour to stave off a Brisbane Bullets comeback and get a 73-69 victory.The 31-year-old looked back in gear against a dysfunctional Bullets defence after appearing slow in his return from a heel injury last round.Machado battled in the paint and at the perimeter, finishing with 17 points and seven assists.While Machado’s resurgence has lightened Tahjere McCall’s load stat-wise, it didn’t stop the 27-year-old from having a major defensive impact despite coughing up a few fouls early.The Bullets, on the other hand, looked lost on both ends early against a voracious and desperate Taipans team.“After the week we’ve had, trying to address our demons … that’s the secret right, let’s try and score in the first quarter, then just hold on for dear life,” Taipans head coach Adam Forde said.“We struggled to tick that scoreboard over in the third and the fourth (quarter) but what we’re trying to hang our hat on is defence.”Marquee Brisbane star Nathan Sobey – playing off the bench in limited minutes – was able to rally his troops as the game progressed, with their playoff hopes well on the line after this loss. In 13 minutes, the 31-year-old former Taipan dropped 11 points.Fellow Bullets leader Jason Cadee looked visibly frustrated after a slow start at the Snakepit as he tried mightily to lift his team’s offence.The Bullets captain topped his team with 15 points paired with eight assists.“I think I’ve said it numerous times (but) you can’t just give teams leads,” Cadee said after the game.“It’s hard to chase leads in this league, you have to be perfect. When you start getting down 10-15 points, you can’t feel your way.“When you’re chasing and chasing, you have to be almost perfect to almost win.“Whatever’s going on, we just can’t figure it out for a full four quarters.”WHAT EVEN IS LOAD MANAGEMENT?Forde was not shy about wanting to get the most out of his playing contingent all four quarters of a game.The Taipans’ starting five of Machado, McCall, Bul Kuol, Stephen Zimmerman and Majok Deng were on the court for an average of 31 minutes.Bench players Keanu Pinder and Mirko Djeric also clocked up the minutes with about 20 apiece.Fellow bench players Jordan Ngatai and Marshall Nelson did not play a single minute.“The plan on Thursday night was just to get a little bit more consistent rotations to keep that momentum going,” Forde said.“If guys can’t play 32 minutes of basketball, then we’re doing something wrong from a high performance and fitness side of things.“I’m also searching for answers for how we can help score.”SECOND HALF SCORING WOES CONTINUEMuch like recent losses, the Taipans had a hard time scoring as the game went on.The Snakes scored just nine points in the third quarter, which thankfully was enough to account for the Bullets own scoring troubles.McCall, while dominant on defence once again, was one such player to have a hard time getting anything going shooting-wise finished just 4-13 from two and just 1-7 from the three.“That’s still our Achilles heel, we’re getting there and there’s a learning curve,” Forde said.“I’m trying to be a bit more patient with it, the guys did a really good job with the things we wanted to address.”DEATH FROM A DISTANCEFirst-year Taipans sharpshooter Kuol looked fierce from downtown against the Bullets.Already developing a reputation as a quality shooter this season, Kuol’s teammates ensured they got the ball to him at the perimeter – he finished with 14 points going four from six from the three.Serbian sniper Mirko Djeric also had a solid night from afar, sinking three of six threes.FOUL PLAYCairns sent Brisbane to the line 21 times from 20 fouls on Thursday night, but the visitors were only able to sink a less-than-ideal 14 points from their opportunities.However, the Taipans had even more trouble at the charity stripe, nabbing just six points from their 14 chances. The Taipans will be back in Cairns on Sunday to face Melbourne United, while the Bullets return home to take on the Tasmania JackJumpers on Saturday. ‘Literally, we haven’t done anything’: The four stats that sum up the Snakes’ losing streakWith a record of 1-6 since the beginning of 2022, it has not been the start to the new year the bottom-of-the-ladder Taipans wanted by any stretch.Both coaches and players have cited the imperativeness of overcoming on-court dysfunction and to get back into winning form, fast.We’ve looked back on their last seven game to highlight four numbers that back-up the Snakes’ recent form, or lack thereof.17: The average number of turnovers per game.The Taipans have averaged a regrettable 17 turnovers per game since coming back to play at the end of January.Overall on the season they also average a league-worst 17 turnovers for the entire season.It’s something Forde has hammered home every week during the season – that ball security needs to be better for the Taipans to win games.Whether it’s a poor dribble, or an inaccurate pass at the three point line, the Taipans can’t expect their winning chances to improve until this number does.8.7: The average number of points from turnovers per game.While the Snakes have had no trouble turning the ball over, they’ve had struggles converting on their own.At just 8.7 points per game from turnovers, the Snakes don’t seem to be able to capitalise given head coach Adam Forde’s defensive-minded schemes, and top guard Tahjere McCall.10.6: Average number of second chance pointsOffensive rebounds haven’t been much of an issue for Cairns, but in their last six losses they have been unremarkable in getting to the rim on second and even third looks.This was on full display against the 36ers, in which missed shots either went right back to Adelaide, or it became a messy scramble for the loose ball, which would eventually go back to the opposition.17: Average number of points scored in the third quarter in losses.There’s that number again. Outside a 32-point comeback quarter in their loss to New Zealand, the Taipans haven’t been able to eclipse 20 points in the third quarter in their losing spate.Poor quarter-by-quarter numbers are found throughout their start to 2022, but the loss of momentum to start the second half has doomed the side in many of these hard defeats.‘Literally, we haven’t done anything’: McCall’s rallyThe 27-year-old first-year Taipan has not been shy about the miscommunication and poor play that has yielded a last place ladder spot.“I just think we have to be better,” McCall said.“We’ve been in most games besides maybe the first Perth game, no matter how it started or how it finished we’ve been in winnable games.“Wins and losses – you worry about that after yourself, and right now we don’t have ourselves together.“We have to make sure we’re on the same page and we’re competing.”The Taipans will hope to get another win against the Brisbane Bullets on Thursday night.McCall said it did not matter who they were going up against, and that the team needed to beat its own demons in order to climb out of the hole.“I feel like we have something to prove because literally, we haven’t done anything,” he said.“We’ll refocus, and the ones who truly love the people next to them, they find a way to bounce back into it and give it their all.”‘Give a s###’: Forde, McCall blast team, and selves at crossroadsTaipans coach Adam Forde has one message for his team: “actually give a s###.”Cairns is in free fall, having lost seven of its last eight games to plummet to the bottom of the NBL ladder.Dysfunction on offence and turnovers have attributed to the previous two losses, but Forde said it’s the team’s attitude letting them down.“The biggest competition is ourselves, right here, right now,” he said.“Win, lose or draw I just want us to play hard (and) play the right way. I felt like for the most part against Adelaide that’s where we let ourselves down.“There’s is a fork in the road for us and we can either keep going down that same road that got us in this position.“Or we fight through the adversity, fight through the mental side of it and we rise above it and become better for it.”The Snakes will come home this week to play the Brisbane Bullets at the Cairns Convention Centre.Four of the Taipans’ next five games will be at the Snakepit; Forde expected his team to shape up and right the boat for a fanbase starved of success.“(I want) for the guys to install confidence back into the community, to actually give a s###,” he said.“We want these guys to be proud to represent the jersey and they are.“There is a strong belief and desire in this group to want to play hard.”Marquee defensive player Tahjere McCall also put the team, and himself on blast for their recent form.“Things have got to change, there’s no sugar-coating it,” the 27-year-old said.“We look bad, we’re playing bad, our record is bad. It’s not a good feeling in this position, I don’t like being in this position and the team doesn’t like it.”The fourth-ranked player in the league in assists said after the game, the players gathered to a quorum in which they addressed the nightmarish situation the Taipans find themselves in.“I just felt terrible after the game, I always say what I feel and how I feel,” McCall said.“I don’t like having hidden agendas or not understanding the aura of the room.“We haven’t been performing the best we can perform, let alone wins and losses.“It’s a blessing to do this job and we’re taking it for granted, so we just need to have a different attitude.”Forde said after Sunday’s loss he’d noticed his team playing with more rigour, even training 45 minutes over schedule on Tuesday to get certain plays right.“Dudes are loosing sleep over this, this is a real thing for us,” he said.“If we shoot 11 per cent from the three-point line, that’s going to happen some time.” “But are we quitting possessions? Are we getting frustrated with the referees? These guys want to win and give the fanbase the entertainment they come to support us for.”‘Nothing sexy’: how the Taipans are getting the most out of Big ZimCoddling players just isn’t Taipans coach Adam Forde’s style.The Snakes head honcho hinted at a change in starting bigs last week, and it yielded a season-best performance out of top centre Stephen Zimmerman.In Cairns’ latest loss – an 11-point defeat to the Adelaide 36ers – one glimmer of hope could be found in the play of Zimmerman, who notched his fourth double-double of the season.The 25-year-old scored 21 points and 13 rebounds, looking fierce in the paint and at the key.After praising fellow Taipans tall Keanu Pinder prior to the game – hinting at a possible roster change – Forde said he liked how Zimmerman responded.“I know I showed my hand early that I appreciate using the media to motivate some guys,” he said.“Some guys want a coffee, a yarn and a pat on the back and sometimes you just need to publicly embarrass someone. The great thing about Zim is that he’s the ultimate professional.“It was nothing to do with minutes with Keanu sitting on the bench.“By default, Zim kept his starting spot and the great thing about it was he gave it a legitimate run.”With the Taipans teetering on collapse at the bottom of the ladder, Forde hoped Zimmerman’s resurgence would be an example of how the team can once again intimate opponents.“We looked for him in the post, giving us rim protection, there were times where he was uneccessarily helping off the ball and that’s a part of a trust,” Forde said.“Zim answered the call and we just need a few more guys to do the same.”Prior to round 11, assistant coach Sam Gruggen said there was always an adjustment period when coming into the NBL from overseas, and Zimmerman continued to show he’s making strides in the right direction.“Zim’s shown he can consistently get 10 rebounds and 10 points per game,” he said.“He does nothing sexy, he does all the dirty work, gets on the loose ball and he gets hit on the head every rebound but somehow manages to push through it.”The Taipans will play the Brisbane Bullets on Thursday night at the Snakepit.Taipans players call crisis meeting after another collapse vs 36ersTHE Taipans playing group called an emergency closed-door meeting after suffering their seventh loss in eight games which has them floundering in last place on the NBL ladder.After a second half collapse against the Hawks on Friday resulting in a 79-54 loss, the Snakes backed it up by dropping a 15-point lead to the Adelaide 36ers to lose 82-71.Here are five things we learned from the double-header losses as the Taipans brace themselves for a home game against the Bullets on Thursday.LEADERS STAND UPImmediately after the 11-point loss to the 36ers, the Taipans players gathered for a frank chat about the team’s situation. No players attended the post-game press conference, with head coach Adam Forde saying he wanted their discussions to flow naturally.He said star defensive guard Tahjere McCall sparked the meeting.“He started it, he initiated it – it didn’t come from me,” Forde said.“Sometimes you can have these player meetings and they can be a bit of fluff, (but) that was very real.”Forde said the team leader had taken the losing streak to heart.“McCall’s just such an ultimate competitor who wants to win every game and every possession,” he said.“We’re in a very dark place of how we can tick the scoreboard over and get wins – that burden is becoming heavier and heavier. We need to do a better job as a coaching staff and playing group to distribute that workload across everybody.”FORDE’S APPROACHThe notably fiery first-year coach of the Taipans, Forde walked back his comments that players are “either not listening” or are “idiots” after Friday night’s loss 25-point loss to the Hawks.He admitted a new regime at the club, as well as the many changes to the roster due to injuries and Covid, would need more time before the team is working in unison.“I don’t think it’s anything particularly to do with individuals being rebellious, it’s another added learning curve,” Forde said.“Maybe my delivery needs to be a bit more clearer, maybe I need to be more visual and less verbal.”First-year shooter Bul Kuol said Forde’s words did resonate with the playing group, with more needing to be done on their end.“Our coach is good … we’re a great group and we’re talented,” the 25-year-old said.“But talent doesn’t win you games and so I think we’ve just gotta figure it out.“Coach has tried everything, from yelling at us, challenging us so just as a group we need to respond better.” MACHADO’S ROAD TO RECOVERYMachado made the Taipans’ starting five on Sunday, but still played at a slow pace as he recovers from a heel injury.The 31-year-old superstar scored just six points and three assists in 26 minutes of play.It may take longer than anticipated for Taipans fans to be chanting Machado’s name, but Forde wasn’t losing any sleep just yet on his marquee point guard.“It’s a bit hand-in-hand, I think we’ve got to provide opportunities for him,” he said.“Once we get into a bit more flow and we’ve got our starting point guard playing his style with everyone working around him, we’ll be fine.”GROUNDHOG DAYFreezing cold offensive sorties and constant turnovers are two major mountains the Taipans can’t seem to conquer. The Snakes shot a lacklustre 30 per cent from the field including 3-27 from three against the Hawks. While shooting took a slight upward trend against the 36ers, the Snakes tallied a messy 23 turnovers.“We work so hard defensively and lock it down with scout, personal and the effort,” Forde said.“Then we just don’t reward ourselves on the other end. “We reward ourselves with a defensive rebound and then we just throw it away.”COLLAPSESIn both games, the Taipans in it early before falling away completely.Forde said the team did themselves no favours by getting visibly frustrated on the court.“It takes the wind out of us on the offensive side and you can see that where we’ve tightened up so much. The disappointing thing is that when it comes through with our energy and our body language, I know there aren’t guys who are proud to display that.”Bricks from Taipans see team sink to the bottom of NBL ladderThe Taipans have hit rock bottom in the NBL ladder after a nightmare second half of shooting in a 79-54 loss to the Illawarra Hawks who look like contenders in the league once more.The Taipans opened their game as if their head coach – Adam Forde was on the shoulders of every player challenging their effort.But a poor night of shooting and a fourth quarter collapse had the Snakes’ head honcho hot-headed on the sideline.Turnovers were down, but missed shots were up for the Snakes who shot a regrettable 18-42 from the field.After starting with a full head of steam against the Hawks, the Taipans had an incredibly hard time getting anything going offensively, scoring just 17 points in the second half.“We didn’t execute anything on the offensive end, a lot of it was unidentifiable,” Forde said after the loss.“When we mark that down as we coach games, it’s going to be a very large category called miscellaneous and that, for the most part, was what the second half was.”Disappointed in his side’s loss, Forde said the team needed time to get back into gear and work out how to improve.“You’ve only got so many bullets in your revolver, and I feel like we’ve used them all up this season,” he said.“We’re learning, and this is the thing I’ve asked with the guys is how do we retain that information when the language has been the same with anything.”“When the stress starts to build, whether it’s on defence of the opposition starts to shift in their favour … can we stay true to our homebase defence?”Cairns’ defence ultimately relented to a barrage of Hawks attackers, led by aggressive centre Duop Reath and a feisty Antonious Cleveland.Cleveland was able to take the Taipans to task from all angles on attack and defence in a relatively low-scoring night, finishing with a game-high 15 points.“I thought he started to sniff it and he picked it up the last couple of games and I thought he took it to another level tonight,” Hawks head coach Brian Goorjian said.“It got Duop going, it got Sam (Froling) going, it got Tyler (Harvey) going and that was good to see.“Because if we have any chance of moving forward in this thing, we’ve gotta cover that (defensive) end.”A typically hot Majok Deng was only lukewarm in his team’s loss, tallying 11 points and five rebounds.In his 150th game, Mirko Djeric had a quiet night scoring-wise, nabbing just three points.Still in limited minutes, Machado showed up, to an extent.The 31-year-old leader was vocal on the court and aggressive at the key in the first half.However, as the game progressed, Machado showed hesitancy on the attack, which hindered the Taipans rather than helped.Long distance threatsThe Hawks got plenty of looks from beyond the three point line, getting a number of wide open buckets from distance.The Taipans, on the other hand, could not catch a break in their lacklustre night in scoring, converting only three of their 26 attempts.CentrefoldFor the second week running, the Snakes were outmatched by their opponent’s centre.This time it was Reath who was able to carve a path for Illawarra, given plenty of time to take his shots and have his way with the Taipans defence, finishing with 16 points and five rebounds.Not so free throwsThe Taipans went to the line 14 times in the first three quarters.The Hawks in that time? Zero.Goorjian wouldn’t be too unhappy with the lack of calls, as the Hawks appeared content with taking floaters and jump shots, and converting off multiple attempts in the paint.Hawks’ Xavier Rathan-Mayes was finally able to get a free throw in with five minutes to go, and missed.On Sunday, the Taipans will face the 36ers in Adelaide while the Hawks will host the Tasmania Jackjumpers.Forde’s ultimatum“Either you’re not listening, or you’re an idiot.” Eight words from Taipans coach Adam Forde has put the burners back on his team after succumbing to two straight losses which have put the team’s finals hopes in jeopardy.It took only days after a heroic win undermanned against the Bullets in Brisbane for the Snakes to lay two eggs, including an embarrassing first half performance against the NZ Breakers at home.“We forgot how to play basketball in the first half,” Forde said.“We went through it upstairs (watching tape), and my frustration is the sense that we’re highlighting the same deficiencies in our offence and our defence each week.“So either you’re not listening, or you’re an idiot.“It’s gotta be changed, that’s where I’m at … we’ve lost five of our past six, not great.”The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, and Forde will look to retain his sanity by shaking up his starting five before the season is lost.The Taipans head honcho said he’ll be looking at his bigs to see who’s best to lead the squad into a game.While centre Stephen Zimmerman has proven capable in the paint (9.67 rebounds per game), he had a hard time defending speedy Breakers centre Yannick Wetzell in Monday’s heartbreaking one-point Valentine’s Day loss.Meanwhile fellow tall Keanu Pinder played another quality game off the bench for the Snakes, finishing with 16 points against NZ.“He’s the only one giving us anything,” Forde said.“In that first half I’d take Keanu on one leg, blind in one eye with his hearing disabled and he’d still give us more than everyone else in the lockeroom.”Just a week ago, Forde spoke of how Pinder had what it took to be a starting centre, and he could be set for his chance this week. Across the former Adelaide 36er’s last four matches, Pinder has player about 31 minutes perg game from the bench, averaging a little over 12 points and 8 rebounds.Staring down a sweep at the hands of the Illawarra Hawks – whom the Taipans play this Friday night – Forde did not dice his words when it came to Pinder’s starting chances.“I think Keanu’s been our best player, so why wouldn’t I reward him with a starting position?,” he said.“In the past four games, he’s been our most consistent individual so I think I need to reward that.”After the Hawks in Wollongong, the Taipans will play the 36ers on Sunday afternoon at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. “Our margin for error is so much smaller than everyone elses regardless of the bodies we have in or out,” Forde said. “I’m not asking them to have an out of body experience and play like Jordan’s flu game.“We’re talking about coming in a doing the job you were hired to do.” Cairns Post where to get [email protected]

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