Cairns keep NBL finals hopes alive with win over New Zealand

Cairns Taipans have kept their faint NBL finals hopes alive with a 81-71 win over the New Zealand Breakers at the Cairns Convention Centre on Saturday.

It was a scrappy match, but the Taipans overcame a slow start and third quarter jitters to improve their record to 10-13 with five matches remaining in the regular season.

The Breakers were without point guard Edgar Sosa, who withdrew with a rolled ankle, but they still started wiyth plenty of zip in their step.

NZ forward Mika Vukona scored within three seconds after intercepting the tip-off and his men followed by keeping the home side scoreless in the opening minutes.

Cairns point guard 'Scoochie' Smith stopped the rot in the fourth minute with a corner three, sparking a run that put the Taipans in front. They led 41-37 at halftime.

But Breakers guard DJ Newbill came alive in the third quarter, scoring seven points to put the visitors in the driver's seat heading into the final period.

Cairns guard Jarrad Weeks then performed a spectacular chase-down block on Breaker Jordan Ngatai, but the Tall Blacks player responded with two quick-fire three pointers, seemingly putting the snakes to the sword.

But the combo of Cairns forward Jerry Evans Jnr and Cam Gliddon weren't about to see their season be decided prematurely.

Evans Jnr scored five quick points half way through the fourth, and a three ball from skipper Gliddon put them in front once again.

All up Gliddon contributed eight points in the final quarter, and finished on 20 as the Taipans outlasted the visitors.

Cairns next play Melbourne United on January 24 while New Zealand will travel to Perth to play the Wildcats on January 27.