By Murray Wenzel, Pagemasters
Adelaide stole a dramatic come-from-behind victory in Cairns against the Taipans on Saturday night, with Jason Cadee draining a huge three-pointer with less than three seconds on the clock for the win.
The 36ers trailed by 18 at half-time and looked out of the contest, but on the back of Anthony Petrie (18 points, eight rebounds, three blocks), Daniel Johnson (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Adam Gibson (16 points) they somehow conjured a 71-68 victory.
After a 21-point second half followed 47 in the first two quarters, Taipans coach Aaron Fearne blasted his side, labeling them soft and susceptible.
"It's been there for a majority of this season. This underbelly is there, I'm not going to hide it," he said.
"(We've had) Big leads and we've turned around and lost by 10.
"That killer instinct that the good teams have (is not there)."
In complete control at the half, the Taipans scored just 15 points in the next 17 minutes as Adelaide drew level.
A tired-looking home side made only six of 29 field goals in that time as Johnson brought Adelaide level and then a Gibson three put them in front with less than two minutes on the clock.
Gibson then nailed a pair free throws, before a long Brad Hill two from the corner tied it up.
But Cadee silenced the once-jovial crowd to give Adelaide a special road victory.
"It's a momentum game and it was massive for Jason - one big shot can change a game," Gibson said.
"He's great player. Like a few of us, he's low on confidence, but for him to step up like that, we applaud him."
With five games left in their season, Gibson is set on finishing strongly.
"I've had probably one of my worst years but I'm just going to try to do what I can to help us win," he said.
Clarke was proud of how the team had continued to toil despite a season filled with disappointment.
"You've got to enjoy every victory as a sportsman. We haven't let the results sway our work this season and that's why I think this win is deserved," Clarke said.
"It's just about believing in yourself. Defence keeps you in the game. Eventually teams start missing, that's the way it goes."
For Cairns, Cam Tragardh scored 14 points, but missed seven straight shots at one stage, while Shane Edwards and Jamar Wilson each had 12 points.
Aaron Grabau, in his 400th game for the Taipans, notched nine points in the first five minutes, but four early fouls limited his game time and he finished with 11.
Adelaide had 17 more free-throw attempts than the Taipans, with Johnson nailing a match-turning 11-of-12.
Adelaide 36ers 71 (Petrie 18, Johnson 17)
Cairns Taipans 68 (Tragardh 14, Wilson, Edwards 12)
Crowd: 3911 at Cairns Convention Centre