MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 24: Melo Trimble of United drives to the basket during the round 8 NBL match between Melbourne United and the Brisbane Bullets at Melbourne Arena on November 24, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 24: Melo Trimble of United drives to the basket during the round 8 NBL match between Melbourne United and the Brisbane Bullets at Melbourne Arena on November 24, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Ex-Snake back to settle score

CHAMPIONSHIP-winning coach Dean Vickerman expects reigning Taipans MVP Melo Trimble to have his spark back in his return bout in Cairns on Friday night.

American guard Trimble was solid without being outstanding in his first meeting against his old club earlier this season, finishing with 21 points in a Snakes victory.

Post-game in Round 4, the Melbourne United coach said Trimble was not 100 per cent himself in the lead-up to the "homecoming" and lacked his usual spark.

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Since the Taipans downed United in late October, the NBL heavyweights have not dropped a game, winning six on the bounce, which means they come to the Far North this week as arguably the hottest team in the competition.

"I am sure they are going to come after him again; he will deal with it differently, it is always different going back for that first time," Vickerman said of Trimble's second match-up against the Snakes this season.

"You are catching up with people from seasons past in that first game.

"It will be different this time.

"I am sure he will put in a better performance."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 24: Melo Trimble of United falls after being fouled during the round 8 NBL match between Melbourne United and the Brisbane Bullets at Melbourne Arena on November 24, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 24: Melo Trimble of United falls after being fouled during the round 8 NBL match between Melbourne United and the Brisbane Bullets at Melbourne Arena on November 24, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Vickerman also expects star import Casey Prather to suit up in Friday night's clash with the Taipans after battling injury for much of the season.

The leader in three-point percentage this season, United veteran forward David Barlow, says co-captain Nate Jawai will be a big focus for his club on Friday.

Centre Jawai scored 18 points off the bench in their last meeting, regularly finding deep post touches and scoring with ease.

"Obviously Nate is one of their key weapons, and is a lot to deal with. We will have a strategy to deal with him," Barlow said.

"He is very good. We will have something to combat his effectiveness; we will have something up our sleaves.

"They beat us last time. That was our last loss. They have a lot of talent.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 24: Melo Trimble of United defends Nathan Sobey of the Bullets during the round 8 NBL match between Melbourne United and the Brisbane Bullets at Melbourne Arena on November 24, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 24: Melo Trimble of United defends Nathan Sobey of the Bullets during the round 8 NBL match between Melbourne United and the Brisbane Bullets at Melbourne Arena on November 24, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

"They are a young team as well, they come in carefree.

"We need to stick to our scout and our game plan, and hopefully we can be all right."

Meanwhile, the Sydney Kings have released former Cairns Taipan Kuany Kuany after signing Xavier Cooks.

"It's a bittersweet situation we are often confronted with in professional sport," Sydney Kings CEO Chris Pongrass said.

"His contract will be paid in full and we will support him as he prepares for his next opportunity."