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Taipans down Phoenix, go to fourth

The fireworks went off early in Far North Queensland as the Cairns Taipans signed off on 2019 with a 92-84 NBL victory over the South East Melbourne Phoenix.

The Snakes overcame a sluggish second quarter to move two games clear in fourth position, although the fifth-placed Phoenix have played one less match.

Taipans import Cameron Oliver continued to make his mark on the NBL with another double-double, scoring 25 points to go with his 10 rebounds.

Reliable guard Scott Machado finished with 29 points and eight assists. He scored 16 of those points in the opening quarter.

Cairns came out of the blocks hot and led 26-22 at the first break, but were outgunned by the Phoenix in the second period.

South East Melbourne scored 21 points in the term but managed to restrict the Taipans to just 11 to lead by six at halftime.

The damage was mostly done in defence, with the Phoenix leading the rebound count 29-11 at the change.

A three-point shooting exhibition broke out after the break and scores were quickly levelled before the home side went out to a seven-point lead at three-quarter time.

The game continued as a perimeter contest in the final stanza and it paid dividends for the Taipans who shot 15-29 from long range for the match, compared to South East Melbourne's 9-33.

Machado said the halftime rebounding stats hadn't painted the full picture of where his side were in the contest.

"When you shoot at 26 from the three that's a lot of long rebounds going over your head," the guard said.

"We just had to fight and do the little things and win the 50-50 balls."

Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell and veteran Ben Madgen rued their side's missed opportunities.

"Shotmaking wasn't our thing tonight," Mitchell said.

Madgen added: "I thought we generated some good looks but just didn't knock them down."

Six Snakes players made three-point shots with Machado (five) Oliver (four) and Mirko Djeric (three) the main contributors.

John Roberson was the best of the visitors, scoring 19 points, four rebounds and five assists.

He had support from Mitch Creek and Ben Madgen (16 points each).

The Taipans stay in Cairns for a quick back-up against Brisbane on Friday night, while the Phoenix host New Zealand on Sunday.