Cairns Taipans continue NBL home streak

Cairns veteran Alex Loughton has led his team to a record-breaking 17th consecutive opening home-match winning streak over the Illawarra Hawks with a nail-biting 88-87 win.

Cairns have opened their NBL season with an 88-87 win over Illawarra.

Cairns have opened their NBL season with an 88-87 win over Illawarra.

The 34-year-old forward, who has flagged that this season might be his last, came from nowhere in the fourth quarter to finish with 19 points, including the game-winning final second free throw.

"That felt really good, great game to start our season," Loughton said.

"Different guys will step up on different nights.

"Tonight it was my number the next game it might not be. Every guy has to be ready for their number."

The match looked more pre-season than regular season early on with both teams struggling with their shooting and fouls.

Nate Jawai sent shivers through the Taipans camp when the big forward came off hobbling after landing on his ankle midway through the second quarter.

Jawai returned to the bench after halftime, but that was as close as he got to the court and it leaves him in serious doubt for the Taipan's match against New Zealand on Sunday.

Mitch McCarron added to the Taipans injury concerns when he walked off after being fouled hard late in the fourth quarter.

For the Hawks, centre AJ Ogilvy combined with Rotnei Clarke for 49 points, while import Demetrius Conger had an outstanding NBL debut with 17 points.

Hawks coach Rob Beveridge wants his men to get the ball into Conger's hands more often.

"As a coaching staff we have to do that better but on the court the players also have to take some responsibility."

Cairns will head to Auckland on Saturday ahead of their match with the New Zealand Breakers, while Illawarra return to Wollongong to wait for Perth next Friday.

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