Alex Loughton of the Taipans controls the ball during the round 10 NBL match against the Adelaide 36ers at Cairns Convention Centre.
Alex Loughton of the Taipans controls the ball during the round 10 NBL match against the Adelaide 36ers at Cairns Convention Centre. Brett Hemmings

Taipans eyeing top-two NBL finish

BASKETBALL: Cairns Taipans veteran Alex Loughton is daring to dream.

While most in the Snakes organisation would just be happy to return to the NBL playoffs this season, the power forward is aiming to grab a top-two finish come Sunday night.

The top four is anything but set with just one round of games to play, with Adelaide - the Taipans' opponents tonight - the only team assured of a post-season berth.

The Taipans, along with Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Illawarra and New Zealand, are trying to squeeze into just three spots in the finals picture.

With Melbourne beating the Hawks on Monday night, United moved to third on the table and bumped the Taipans down to fifth.

Loughton admits he has had the calculator out crunching the numbers trying to figure out who the Snakes need to win in the other games in round 19.

"We have a chance to go for second place and secure that home-court advantage," Loughton said.

"It would be a big financial contribution for the club and we understand that.

"We need to play our game and solidify our performances leading into the playoffs.

"We have had guys running on a number of cylinders and we will need everyone to step up their game.

"I think we will be in a good spot.

"We are aware of the permutations and who we want to win in other games."

Loughton, who dropped 13 points on six-from-12 shooting against his old club Perth last weekend, believes new import Tony Mitchell could be a wildcard against the 36ers.

"He has taken a few games to get going but boy has he shown some great athletic plays since," Loughton said. "He is a real difference for this team and has come in and really helped."

Nate Jawai sat out portions of Tuesday's practice after hurting his shoulder on Sunday against the Wildcats.

Taipans coach Aaron Fearne stressed his star centre was fine and would be good to go tonight.

CAIRNS POST

News Corp Australia


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