Late blitz earns Cairns NBL win over Perth

Matt Nicholls
DJ Newbill (pic) and Kouat Noi have led Cairns to a stunning 91-84 NBL comeback win over Perth

A stunning final quarter has elevated Cairns into NBL finals contention after storming home to beat second-placed Perth 91-84.

The home side trailed by 10 points at three-quarter time after being outgunned from the perimeter. However, the Taipans managed to find their range when it mattered to blow away Perth in Saturday night's final stanza.

After going 4/19 from long range in the opening three quarters, the Taipans opened the last term with three straight.

They finished the last quarter with 8/11 from three-point range to outscore the Wildcats 31-14 for the term.

Young gun Kouat Noi started the ball rolling with the first two threes and, from there, the home side were unstoppable.

The Wildcats, missing star import Terrico White, struggled to find enough contributors late in the game to close out the match.

Former league MVP Bryce Cotton was kept quiet by his usual lofty standards, finishing with just 10 points.

The Taipans were led by Noi (19), co-captain DJ Newbill (17) and Scott Machado (17).

"That was big time for us and something that we can build on," Cairns coach Mike Kelly said.

"(The players) kept the belief."

Kelly would not rank the win, but said it was one of his side's best final quarters.

He said defence, not attack, changed the game.

"Getting stops is a huge reason (for the win)," Kelly said.

"I thought a lot of guys stood up."

One of the unsung heroes was rookie Fabijan Krslovic, who made the most of his opportunity to score eight points and three rebounds.

Not known for his long-range shooting, Krslovic made two clutch three-pointers in the final term.

Perth's top scorer was Clint Steindl with 17 points. However, 14 of those came in the opening half.

Nick Kay (16), Dario Hunt (14) and Mitch Norton (13) all registered double digits.

"It was disappointing, we had three great quarters, and then we were hesitant offensively; we got brittle; we did not want to make mistakes," Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said.

"Our defence was horrendous. There was no pressure - they were just passing the ball for uncontested threes.

"The game was going to script, but then we were not aggressive enough offensively and we got into stay-away mode - guys did not want to be aggressive or shoot the ball."

The Taipans are 4-6 and have a chance to be equal fourth if they win on Monday night against Illawarra.Perth maintain second place with an 8-4 record. Two of those losses have been against Cairns.