JackJumpers tame Taipans in crucial road win
The Tasmania JackJumpers have bolstered their finals prospects and placed a severe dent in the Cairns Taipans' aspirations with a 94-86 victory, but their joy was tempered by with centre Will Magnay going off with a knock to the ribs.
While Tasmania coach Scott Roth said post-match that Magnay would be fine and just had the wind knocked out of him in the clash with Taipans captain Tahjere McCall.
That was after the league's leading shot-blocker and sixth-highest rebounder struggled to breathe and staggered to the bench gingerly with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of Thursday's clash at the Cairns Convention Centre.
By that stage, the JackJumpers had done enough to secure the eventual eight-point win on the back of knocking down 15-of-35 from downtown along with 17 second chance points and 14 points from the 11 Taipans turnovers.
The victory keeps Tasmania in third position on the NBL table at 13-12 with three games to go starting at home to Adelaide on Sunday.
With only two matches left against top-ranked duo Perth (away) and Melbourne (home), Cairns will likely need a miracle to make the top six.
Imports Jordon Crawford (25 points, 6-of-10 three-pointers) and Milton Doyle (17 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists) led Tasmania's charge, with Clint Steindl (14 points with 5-of-5 from the field) submitting a useful captain's cameo off the bench.
Patrick Miller delivered 31 points and seven rebounds on 10-of-18 shooting with 10-of-13 from the foul line.
Rookie point guard Taran Armstrong started for the Snakes and had a solid all-round performance with eight points, six rebounds and six assists.
Captain McCall might have come off the bench but still had a significant impact with 20 points, hree rebounds and two assists.
Miller and McCall were instrumental in keeping Cairns in the hunt in the first half, at the end of which Tasmania led narrowly, 45-44.
JackJumpers point guard Crawford caught fire in the third period, knocking down three triples to finally give the JackJumpers some breathing space.
Miller exchanged heated words with Magnay after being bowled over by the big JackJumper, before Cairns coach Adam Forde received a technical foul for dissent, the Taipans' emotions bubbling over with the stakes so high.
After forcing Tasmania into a 24-second violation with 2.7 seconds left in the third term, the Snakes let the JackJumpers off the hook when Sam Waardenburg stepped out of bounds while launching a late prayer.
Possession was back with the JackJumpers with 1.5 seconds on the clock and Sean Macdonald drilled a bomb from right on the halfway line to put his side up 72-62 at three quarter-time.
Crawford and Steindl continued to sizzle from outside in the fourth as the JackJumpers' lead bulged to 13 points, effectively ending Cairns' resistance and probably their season.
HUNGRY JACKS NBL ROUND 18
CAIRNS TAIPANS 86 (Miller 31, McCall 20, Armstrong 8, Mennenga 8)
TASMANIA JACKJUMPERS 94 (Crawford 25, Doyle 17, Steindl 14)