Snakes set to sink teeth into inconsistent United
A young import and veteran leader are expected to be significant contributors for the Cairns Taipans this week.
Beating bitter rivals Melbourne United is motivation enough for the Cairns Taipans camp - but for two key contributors the game has extra meaning.
Snakes import Fuquan Edwin has struggled in recent weeks while veteran Mark Worthington is battling to overcome an ankle issue in time for Saturday’s road game.
Forward Alex Loughton says Edwin will be eager to respond strongly following a scoreless outing against the New Zealand Breakers last week.
“We’ve recognised his confidence has been down,” Loughton says.
“Hard work is the only way to bring it forward. You can’t dwell on it. You’ve just got to put the hours in of extra work.
“He had a good session to day. I think he’ll still be a piece for our team for the rest of the season.
“[Mark] didn’t train today but he did shoot around.
“Obviously, we’ve got a next man up mentality and guys have picked up the slack.
“But we really need to make a move forward [on the ladder] and hopefully he’s back this week.”
Worthington has enjoyed a solid season so far, averaging 11 points, five rebounds and four assists per game for the seventh-placed Snakes.
Coach Aaron Fearne says the team leader would be a welcome addition ahead of a crucial home game against the Perth Wildcats on Monday.
“He should play this week,” Fearne says.
“We’ll see how he progresses over the next couple of days. We’ve got two pretty big games coming up.”
The Taipans were unlucky on their home floor against United in Round 13, losing 79-78 with several contentious calls going the visitors way in a spiteful affair.
Loughton says United's talented lineup presents some exciting individual match-ups for the Taipans.
“They’ve got all the resources in the world,” he says of United.
“They just bring [import] guys in [during the season].
“It’s a tough matchup for us in terms of the individual quality of players.
“So, it’s our team defence versus their individual offence.”
Guards Casper Ware and Chris Goulding will be the Taipans’ main focus.
“You’ve definitely got to keep them off the three-point line, force them into long, contested two-point baskets,” Loughton says.
“You have to try to limit their touches. If they get going, then so be it. If you can limit their other pieces from getting going … that goes a long way.”
United are coming off a 106-88 loss to the Illawarra Hawks on Saturday.