Agent Orange: welcome to a new kind of Far North Taipansland
UPDATE: Taipans win! Import Melo Trimble has starred on debut for the Cairns Taipans, leading the scoring with 32 points to help the team overcome the Brisbane Bullets 88-70 at the Brisbane Convention Centre on Saturday night.
The Taipans won every quarter in their opening game, including a 28-16 final term.
The team's next outing is the first home game of the new season, with the Taipans taking on the Illawarra Hawks at the Cairns Convention Centre this Sunday, October 21. Don't forget you can grab your free copy of Tropic Magazine's Taipans 20th season special edition at the game this Sunday.
AGENT ORANGE: The waft of liniment engorges the air, and the sound of orange spandex yawing in distress after an opulent offseason sounds around the town; a new basketball season has begun.
While the balls still bounce according to Newton’s gravitational approximations, this brand new 2018-19 season sees more roster changes than the Wiggles current lineup.
Gone are many of those familiar names that adorned the singlets and love letters of fans for years, replaced with a brand-new generation of those who have pledged their allegiance to the orange, as one nation under Joe Blake.
For many of us in Far North Taipansland, it’s a strange feeling to be going into a new season without the many-accented basketball savant, Aaron Fearne, as coach. In his 9 years, you’d slip into a season like a bubblebath on a Friday night; you’re excited but you mostly know what to expect.
After Taipans management’s almost full tabula rasa, new coach, and 90% new roster, we don’t really know what to expect. I’m filled with with the anticipatory excitement one feels in the lead up to a first time Tinder date (before discovering you’ve actually been catfished by a 47-year-old Albanian shepherd named Milot).
The space between the beginning of the preseason and the start of the season proper is a space filled with infinite possibility and improbable fancy, and it’s more so this season not knowing what to expect under the regime of new coach Mike Kelly.
Kelly’s crew has the talent to destroy more than a few pre-season ladder predictions and make those improbable dreams of glory manifest into reality. But as always, success rides on the thinnest of tracks over the void of despair; with a new coach, a new roster, and a league that is as talented as it has ever been, those tracks are thinner than ever.
LEADERSHIP IS KEY
Helping us stay on those tracks will be the inspirational leadership of the patron Saint of the Orange Army, the High Priest of the Fist Pump, the doyenne of long-range destruction, the master of the midrange, 35-0 against Father Time, newly-minted team Captain Alex Loughton.
In a raging sea of permutation, Loughzy’s presence is a reassuring bastion of stability. For 8 years, Al has toiled tirelessly for the Orange Army, and his penultimate/ultimate season is perhaps his most important ever.
His game is as sharp as the first day he threw an inflated air bladder through a bottomless peach basket, but it’s the veteran leadership he’ll provide, along with his 2-I-C Lucas Walker, that will be key to the Taipans’ success.
With so many new faces in the mix, the culture needs to be rebuilt from the ground up and there is no better human for the task.
Many do, many have, many always will, doubt the resolve of the men who wear the orange (and occasionally white, blue and pink). Perpetually written off, perennially selected as cellar dwellers, not much has changed in 20 years.
It’s been 16 years since the Taipans last took home a timber ladle, and I’m not cleaning out the cutlery draw. Brothers and sisters of the Orange Nation, I think we’re in for a wild ride and I cannot wait to see what unfolds...
Catch Agent Orange's new column for TropicNow every Wednesday.