Taipans looking like NBL finals contenders

Matt Nicholls
Young gun Kouat Noi banked 19 points in Cairns Taipans' NBL win over Perth Wildcats

Write off the Cairns Taipans at your own peril.

That was the warning issued by coach Mike Kelly, who praised his side's fight and determination to beat the Perth Wildcats in a come-from-behind win on Saturday night at the Cairns Convention Centre.

The Taipans were down by 10 at three-quarter time and couldn't hit a three-pointer to save themselves at that stage but put on an 18-0 scoring run to blow the Wildcats off the court and win 91-84.

Cairns went 8/11 from long range in the last quarter to outscore Perth 31-14. The Snakes also managed to keep star Wildcats guard Bryce Cotton scoreless in the final term, with the former MVP restricted to just 10 points for the evening.

"The players are believing in what we are doing every day," Kelly said post-game.

"I don't know where it ranks as a win ... but as far as a half or a fourth quarter - that was big time for us."

The Taipans won six games in Kelly's first year as coach of the Taipans and are now 4-6 with the bottom-placed Illawarra Hawks to come on Monday night.

While the coach wouldn't be drawn into speculating on a potential finals berth, he said there was cause for optimism.

"That was something we can build on," Kelly said.

"(The players) kept believing even when we weren't getting stops, even we weren't scoring consistently, and it turned.

"It's something we can build on as we go forward."

While Kelly was unimpressed with his side's 4/18 record from the three-point line heading into the final quarter, he was rapt they were able to turn it around with 8/11 from the perimeter in the last term.

"Getting stops is a huge reason," he said.

"You gotta drop one and stay confident. If you miss and they are the right shots you live with it.

"We do shoot threes and we're happy with open, uncontested threes, but we want to get downhill and get in the paint."

Considered to be a wooden spoon contender in the pre-season, the Taipans could conceivably be in the top four by this time next week.

Wins against Illawarra (away) on Monday night and Melbourne (home) on Friday would give the Snakes a positive record and most likely have them in the finals mix.