Illawarra ended two major NBL winning streaks when they defeated Cairns 104-93 at the Cairns Convention Centre on Sunday.
The Hawks' win was their first in Cairns after eight consecutive losses in Far North Queensland, while they also ended the Taipans' Australian sporting record of 17 straight opening-round home wins.
Cairns had not lost an opening home match since going down to the West Sydney Razorbacks in 2000.
Illawarra forward Todd Blanchfield was the hero for the Hawks, scoring a career-high 32 points, while promising guard Jordair Jett netted 22 for the visitors.
A season of state league basketball back in his hometown of Mackay paid dividends for Blanchfield who left the Sydney Kings to join the Hawks via a winter playing for the Mackay Meteors in the QBL.
Blanchfield played a starring role to be voted league MVP and averaged 21 points under coach Cameron Tragardh.
"I think confidence is a big thing. I took a lot from the off-season," the 27 year-old forward said.
"The step between the QBL and NBL is quite a big step and sometimes guys can't make it.
"I didn't want to be that. I worked hard on my game a lot in the off-season and I think its carried over and I think it's been pretty successful."
Against the Taipans, Blanchfield scored seven from the perimeter and 11-18 from the field to lead Illawarra's scoring.
Hawks coach Rob Beveridge praised Blanchfield's performance.
"That was enormous for us because we know we are going to be a very good team," he said of a side that was missing stars Andrew Ogilvy and Kevin White.
"We were so hurt this week - we had five players sit out practice on Wednesday."
"Todd is an incredible player and I don't know if he knows how good he could be. We want him to be our main scorer," he said
Veteran big man Brian Conklin overcame a third-quarter ankle injury scare to register 21 points and six rebounds.
American imports Melo Trimble (28 points) and DJ Newbill (22 points) were the standouts for Cairns.
The Taipans were crippled by turnovers, conceding 17 to Illawarra's 10.
The Hawks showed no signs of fatigue after a tough opening round, which started with a quadruple overtime loss to Melbourne United, followed by a 40-point drubbing in Perth.
The Hawks now have a 1-2 record, while the Taipans are 1-1.