Good news Taipans fans: our new-look team is locked in for a big home game clash against Perth on New Year’s Eve in the 2018-19 NBL schedule released today.
In a generally positive outcome for the CQUniversity Cairns Taipans, the schedule features an even spread of weekend home games, including four Saturday night fixtures.
The team’s first home game tips off on Sunday October 21 against the Illawarra Hawks. With the schedule now in place, excitement is building at the club with coach Mike Kelly settling into his new home, new players arriving in town and the team roster nearly complete.
The most challenging run of games in the new schedule is a four-game stint across 10 days in January that will take the team from Cairns to Perth and back again with just a day or two of recovery in between.
Taipans CEO Mark Beecroft told TropicNow he was pleased with the new schedule, particularly the league’s recognition of the importance of the New Year’s Eve game.
“New Year’s Eve is the big one, it’s the pillar in the calendar for us,” he said. “Everyone knows we lost it two seasons ago and we’re pleased the NBL has recognised the importance of that game for the club and for the city.
“It’s a platform for celebration where people come into town to watch the game and then on to the council fireworks. And being against Perth – who we’ve had a big rivalry with over the years - it’s going to be a big one.
“In terms of the overall schedule, we are happy with the spread of games. We’ve got two Thursdays, two Fridays, four Saturdays, three Sundays and three Mondays, one of which is the New Year’s Game. Have nine of the 14 games across the weekend period is fantastic and it’s in line with the family style of offering we deliver.”
Taipans fans will have to wait until just before Christmas to see the Sydney Kings’ superstar recruit Andrew Bogut in action at the Cairns Convention Centre.
“Bogut has been the big talk of the league in the lead-up and I think his match up with Jawai will be very closely watched across the league,” Beecroft said.
Beecroft said the club’s lobbying efforts for a fair spread of home and away games began more than six months ago.
“Clubs generally start with some discussions around our preferences and then it moves into venue availability, followed by a series of drafts the NBL puts together before a final schedule is released,” he said.
“It’s a dynamic process for the NBL because you’re dealing with a number of venues and all of our availabilities impact each other. We’ve been able to sustain a crowd average of around 4200, so for the size of our city that’s a great outcome.
“Of course a lot depends on the schedule and how we’re performing on court, but we think we can maintain and grow that level of support at our home games, particularly with a good spread of weekend games.”