Desperate Bullets outgun Taipans in NBL | Ralph Lauren

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A desperate Brisbane Bullets have survived an NBL shootout by outgunning dead-last Cairns Taipans 101-96 to keep their slim finals hopes alive.

Both teams fired away at 50 per cent from the field in end-to-end action at Cairns Pop-Up Arena on Wednesday, with the Bullets also shooting 14-26 from three-point range and the Taipans dropping 12-28 from beyond the arc.

When the dust settled in the frenetic match, the sixth-placed Bullets had sealed only their second win in five games to push their season tally to 15-17 and remain a mathematical playoff chance.

However, Brisbane will still need to win their remaining four games and hope fourth-placed Illawarra Hawks (17-15) and No.5-ranked Sydney Kings (16-16) slip up in order to scrape into the finals in what is Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis’ fifth and final season at the helm.

Boomers great Andrew Gaze admitted it would be a tough assignment after watching the last-placed Taipans (7-26) almost sink Brisbane.

Cairns whittled away Brisbane’s nine-point lead with three minutes left and could have levelled the scores at 99-99 in the dying seconds, but Venky Jois’ three-point attempt missed before Bullets star Nathan Sobey’s two free throws iced the result.

“With the greatest respect to Brisbane Bullets, they will need to improve significantly if they are to challenge and win their final four games,” TV commentator Gaze said.

“Where there is life there is hope but they have a lot of improvement to do.”

Boomers squad member Sobey (21 points, eight assists) and big man Harry Froling (20 points, eight rebounds) helped the Bullets sweep Cairns for the first time in a season.

Brisbane’s bench outscored the Taipans 42-15 and the Bullets won the rebound count 41-31.

For Cairns, young gun Mojave King (25 points) had a breakout game while classy import Scott Machado had 23 points and 11 assists.

“At the back end of the season with a tough schedule and coming off a couple of losses it has been a challenge,” Bullets coach Lemanis said.

“But we gave enough effort to give ourselves a chance. I like the spirit in the group.”

Cairns led by eight in the first quarter but had to settle for a 25-24 advantage at the opening interval before Brisbane claimed a 52-47 half-time buffer and kicked away 81-75 at the last break.

Meanwhile, Jacqui Dover became the first indigenous woman and eighth female overall to referee an NBL game on Wednesday night.



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