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  • Sam Davis

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    Taipans sign high-flying import Tony Mitchell

    A new import is expected to help the Cairns Taipans playoff push starting tonight against the Perth Wildcats.

    The Cairns Taipans will unveil basketball journeyman Tony Mitchell as their import replacement tonight in a crucial road game against the Perth Wildcats.

    Club officials confirmed on Friday morning Mitchell is with the team and has replaced Fuquan Edwin who has left the club for personal reasons. 

    Mitchell, 27, sneaks into the team’s line-up just in time with NBL players required to suit up in at least 25 per cent of regular season games prior to the playoffs.

    Taipans CEO Mark Beecroft says he expects the high-flying forward to make a big impact on the offensive end.

    “I think he’ll be an impact scorer. We’ll have the ability to throw the ball to him at the end of shot clocks,” Beecroft says.

    “He brings another level of athleticism to the team and a scoring punch that we’ve lacked at times.

    “That’s a big reason why we brought him in.”

    The Georgia native was signed on a 10-day contract with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2014 and spent time with the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks in 2013.

    Mitchell won the Italian Serie A most valuable player award while playing with Dolomiti Energia Trento during the 2014-15 season, averaging 20.1 points per game.

    The 198-centimetre forward has also played in professional leagues in China, Russia, Spain and most recently Israel.

    Taipans coach Aaron Fearne says he identified Mitchell as a potential import back in 2014 at an NBA Summer League game.

    “Back then, he was sharp,” Fearne says.

    “He ended up earning a 10-day call up to the Bucks and went on to have an outstanding D-League season, winning the Championship.

    “He’s played on some good levels over the last few years too, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do out here.”

    Edwin departs having averaged eight points and three rebounds in 20 games for the Snakes.

    Beecroft says the former Seton Hall star’s personal circumstances made it impossible for him to stay.

    “There were obviously issues with ‘Fu’ that we had been working with him on,” he says.

    “We had held out hope that he could resolve them but we needed to have conversations if he wasn’t able to resolve those.”

    The Taipans return to Cairns this weekend to play the Illawara Hawks on Sunday.