Imports adding bite to Taipans
AT least two Taipans are locked in a contest for "best buy" status this NBL season.
It's a testament to coach Mike Kelly, his staff, and the team's management that they have been able to pull together a roster which can not only challenge the heavyweights of the league, but have already proven they can beat them.
In Scott Machado, the Taipans departed the shoot-first style of former point guard Melo Trimble and took a more team-oriented focus.
He's shown that skill week in, week out, and in their past two wins, against Adelaide and Melbourne United, which sent the side back into the top four, best displayed that versatility.
Against the 36ers, he shot just one from 11 from the field but turned provider as he dished 13 dimes - improving on his league-best average of 8.76.
On Boxing Day, he scored 20 points, grabbed six rebounds and five assists as the Taipans' held off a fast finishing Melbourne United.
Alongside Machado is the impact of Cameron Oliver, the man who promised to light up the NBL when he first arrived.
Oliver made history as the first man in the NBL to record at least 20 points, 15 rebounds and five steals in the Taipans' win against Adelaide last Sunday, and produced plenty of footage for highlight reels in weeks and months to come.
One of the finds of the season, Oliver is averaging 16.1 points, 8.8 rebounds (third in the NBL) and a league-leading 1.67 blocks.
It might have barely registered to the casual observer, but last week Kelly highlighted a moment in the third quarter of Sunday's win when Oliver showed how he had matured as a player.
"Cam Oliver was fantastic and I think he's improving," Kelly said post-game. "He's a young basketball player who is very talented and decided he wants to continue to get better.
"He wants to play the right way with that group.
"He sometimes will take that jump shot instead of attacking, but to see him attack and the way he rebounded was big time for our group."
Kelly said the American said was driven to be a better player.
"He's continued to play with great effort, and because he's so talented he's going to get good results from that," Kelly said.
"He's continued to push himself, he knows where he can improve and he wants to continue to do that. Lots of film, lots of conversations about that."
The Taipans hit their home court Tuesday night for a New Year's Eve blockbuster against South East Melbourne.
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