Taipans Majok Deng during the Round 6 NBL match between Cairns Taipans and Illawarra Hawks at the Cairns Convention Centre in Cairns, Saturday, November 9, 2019. (AAP Image/Marc McCormack)
Taipans Majok Deng during the Round 6 NBL match between Cairns Taipans and Illawarra Hawks at the Cairns Convention Centre in Cairns, Saturday, November 9, 2019. (AAP Image/Marc McCormack)

Snakes needed win but Hawks had a Ball

1. THE FAR NORTH HAWKS

In what may be a first in the NBL, Illawarra had more Cairns guys on their bench and in their squad than what the Taipans did.

Co-captain Nate Jawai is counted as a local for the Snakes.

But, at the other end of the court, Cairns' Joel Khalu was drafted in as a third assistant coach for Illawarra for the game.

 

 

 

Hawks LaMelo Ball during the Round 6 NBL match between Cairns Taipans and Illawarra Hawks at the Cairns Convention Centre in Cairns, Saturday, November 9, 2019. (AAP Image/Marc McCormack)
Hawks LaMelo Ball during the Round 6 NBL match between Cairns Taipans and Illawarra Hawks at the Cairns Convention Centre in Cairns, Saturday, November 9, 2019. (AAP Image/Marc McCormack)

 

 

Cairns' Matthew Adekponya is also working for the Hawks this season, shooting their digital content behind the scenes.

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2. THEY WERE THERE TO SEE THE WHIZ KID

The "oohs and aahs" from the crowd were there early on as the NBA-bound LaMelo Ball put on a show.

He dropped a special behind the back dime to veteran big man David Andersen before quickly following that up with a deep transition triple that forced a Mike Kelly time-out.

LaMelo is much like a key forward in the AFL, he always thinks he is open and has his hand up calling for the ball, even if his teammates are in a better position.

Ball was excellent in the first half on Saturday night and showed why NBA clubs are licking their lips at the prospect of securing him.

 

3. SUNDAY WAS BALLIN' OUT

The championship winner with the Perth Wildcats, Sunday Dech trialled with Cairns a couple of seasons ago but they did not have a job for him at the time.

The combo-guard has found a home with the Hawks and he killed the Snakes in the first half on Saturday.

Dech had 13 points before halftime and finished with four triples.

 

 

LaMelo Ball during the Round 6 NBL match between Cairns Taipans and Illawarra Hawks at the Cairns Convention Centre in Cairns, Saturday, November 9, 2019. (AAP Image/Marc McCormack)
LaMelo Ball during the Round 6 NBL match between Cairns Taipans and Illawarra Hawks at the Cairns Convention Centre in Cairns, Saturday, November 9, 2019. (AAP Image/Marc McCormack)

 

 

4. ILLAWARRA WERE KINGS OF THE BOARDS

Illawarra monstered the Snakes on the glass, grabbing 16 first half offensive rebounds, which became way too many second chance points for Mike Kelly's liking.

The Hawks pulled in more rebounds off the offensive end, 16, than Cairns did at either end in the first half, just 13 as a team.

They would eventually win the rebound count by 18.

The 26 offensive rebounds Illawarra grabbed was the highest number of offensive rebounds in a 40-minute game in NBL history.

 

5. GOODBYE MELO

Whispers behind the scenes continue to grow that LaMelo Ball will soon depart the NBL. Hawks coach Matt Flinn said post-game he expects him to play out the season but that looks unlikely now.