Brisbane Bullets respondent, Cairns Taipans despondent as fortunes vary


For Queensland's NBL teams, it's presently not just the tyranny of distance that separates them; their respective form guides are very much a tale of two cities.

Both the Brisbane Bullets and Cairns Taipans were tipped to struggle prior to the 2018-19 campaign with each squad brimming with more effort than talent, not always the brightest portent of success.

And when the Bullets stumbled after shocking New Zealand on opening night, losing their next three to have alarm bells ringing, the early signs seemed to foretell another season out of the post-season action.

But to its immense credit, Brisbane responded in stunning fashion, handing early title favourites Perth its only defeat to date and then taking a home-and-away set against Adelaide this round to zoom into the top-four.

It's been an impressive turnaround from the Bullets, led primarily by former Taipans marksman Cam Gliddon, who has been absolutely lights-out.

Having already established a career-high of 29 points in the season opener, Gliddon went one better in Sunday's spirit-filled triumph over the 36ers at Titanium Security Arena, nailing six threes on his way to 30 points, including the game-winner with less than one second remaining.

It was the Bullets' second straight win over the 36ers for the round and came on the back of an interesting - to put it mildly - week off the court for their newly signed import Lamar Patterson.

After somehow smuggling his French bulldog into the country and enduring all the controversy that followed, it was little wonder Patterson struggled in his debut, getting whistled for four fouls in five minutes and troubling the scorers just once.

But Patterson's on and off-court shenanigans were largely left in the wake of a hot form streak that has coach Andrej Lemanis and his squad holding a far surer footing than they previously did.

Meanwhile, the Snakes tipped their season off with an admirable road win over their state rivals, but it's been their solitary taste of victory thus far.

In previous seasons Gliddon's former squad had enjoyed a formidable home advantage, however this campaign has proved they have anything but that by going winless in the previously friendly confines of the Cairns Convention Centre.

The Taipans looked all at sea on Saturday night against a rampant Melbourne United, who put Cairns to the sword in the first and fourth quarters to ease to a comfortable 98-85 margin that in the end probably flattered the hosts.

With a dynamic import combination in Melo Trimble and DJ Newbill, the Taipans need to surround the duo with consistent role players but that has yet to fully materialise.

Indeed against United, despite a game-high 34 points from Trimble and 18 from Newbill, no other Snake managed to get into double digits, an offensive malaise that meant Cairns was running uphill against one of the better scoring units in the NBL.

And it doesn't get any easier in Round 5, with the Taipans hitting the road against New Zealand and Melbourne. Lose both and Cairns will be anchored to the foot of the table and facing an ever longer road away from their so-far ruinous start.


Casper Ware (MEL) - The livewire guard had been good without really hitting his stride thus far - until this round. Lighting up the Taipans for 32 points (including a gobsmacking eight triples), Ware followed that up with a quieter performance, scoring nine points in a low-scoring contest against the Sydney Kings to propel United to a blemish-free Round 4.


G: Casper Ware (MEL) - See above

G: Melo Trimble (CNS) - Trimble has been a beacon among the wreckage of a miserable start to the Taipans season and Round 4 was no exception. Engaged in a fascinating shootout with Ware, Trimble dropped 34 points, eight assists, and five rebounds.

G: Cam Gliddon (BRI) - As detailed above, Gliddon has already established career-high marks twice this season. The cherry on the cake on Sunday was not just topping the 30-point mark for the first time but nailing the game winner (his sixth make from beyond the arc) to condemn Adelaide to a winless round.

F: Reuben Te Rangi (BRI) - It wasn't just Gliddon who caught fire for the Bullets in Round 4; Te Rangi enjoyed a break-out performance against Adelaide at home, nailing six threes on his way to a game-high 29 points. He followed that up with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists in the second leg of the series against the 36ers.

C: Andrew Bogut (SYD) - In his best performance to date, Bogut unleashed a 21-point, 14-rebound, 3-block masterpiece on an Illawarra Hawks outfit that was largely powerless to stop him. He followed that up with eight points, 15 rebounds and three blocks (although was surely robbed of more by errant stats keepers) against United on Monday night.


A full slate of games this round tips off with the Hawks playing host to United on Thursday night. It's been almost a month since their epic quadruple overtime classic at the WIN Entertainment Centre and the teams have vastly contrasting records since, with United firmly entrenched in the top four and the Hawks on the outside looking in.