The Cairns Taipans showed off their new toys in a promising first-up 84-72 defeat of rivals the Townsville Crocodiles in Cairns on Saturday night.
Melbourne Tigers recruit Cam Tragardh led all scorers with 20 but it was rookie Cameron Gliddon who most impressed, showing the poise of a veteran guard to guide his new team home.
The Perth product finished with nine points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals, but it was his composure and confidence that registered best with his new fans.
He and fellow rookie Clint Steindl received the post-game plaudits from coach Aaron Fearne.
"Gliddon and Steindl were very good tonight. They are rookies, Cam was defending an Olympian in Peter Crawford and he didn't knock down a jump shot tonight," he said.
"I really liked their character."
The Snakes broke the game open with a 26-15 second quarter in which Tragardh and Brad Hill (12 points) ran amok in the Crocs' key.
They made sure of the result by keeping the visitors to 13 points in the third quarter, although a 23-12 final term by the Crocs ensured it was not the blow-out it threatened to be.
Townsville will be sweating on the clearances of late-signed imports Gary Ervin and Larry Abney for Round 2.
Their class was sorely missed but it was not the only factor hurting them, a free throw conversion of just 59 per cent the most glaring statistic.
If not for Townsville bigs Ben Allen (15 points) and Jacob Holmes (14 points) the deficit would have been much larger. The pair were able to slice open the Snakes' defence at regular intervals for easy baskets.
Townsville coach Paul Woolpert said that pair would be a big part of his plans this season, but the team would need to address whatever went wrong fast.
"We were pretty poor tonight. We finished with a rush but you've got to play 40 minutes,'' Woolpert said.
The coach and captain were scratching their head post game after a four-point deficit turned into a decisive margin by half time.
"If you know what went wrong, you can email me," returning skipper Russell Hinder said.
The Taipans looked smooth in the first quarter and led 24-21, with only Holmes' eight points keeping Townsville in touch.
Wilson was called for two early fouls, but Cairns still held control with the superstar on the bench for the majority of the first quarter and the start of the second.
Teenager Mitch Norton (10 points) was impressive running the point for the Crocs in the absence of Ervin.
Taipans swingman Aaron Grabau left the court in the second quarter clutching his knee and did not return.
Cairns Taipans 84 (Tragardh 20, Wilson 17, Hill 12)
Townsville Crocodiles 72 (Allen 15, Holmes 14, Hinder 11)
Crowd: 4773 at Cairns Convention Centre