A six-game losing NBL streak is over for the Cairns Taipans after they avoided another late fade to overpower the New Zealand Breakers 84-69.
Backing up from their six-point loss to the Breakers on Saturday, the Taipans held their nerve in the fourth term to gain sweet revenge at Cairns Pop-Up Arena with their best team performance of 2021.
After letting double-digit leads slip in their last two games, the Taipans once again had some anxious moments in the final quarter of their round four clash when a 22-point deficit was cut to just seven with five minutes left.
There was a strong sense of deja vu after Cairns had been outscored by 14, 11 and 13 points in the final quarters of their past three matches.
But instead of losing their cool, the Taipans (2-6 record) finally maintained their momentum to bounce back into the winners' circle for the first time since the opening round more than three weeks ago.
The Taipans moved off the bottom, relegating the Breakers (1-3) to the cellar.
Cam Oliver and Scott Machado had carried Cairns this year but the imports at last received some support with Majok Deng (21 points), fellow starting forward Kouat Noi (18 points, five rebounds) and bench weapon George Blagojevic (10 points from 15 minutes) getting it done.
Noi responded magnificently after being hooked in just the opening minute by an irate Taipans coach Mike Kelly and replaced by Blagojevic.
"We realised the last few games we had lost, we had lost it in the fourth quarter," said Machado, who had 13 points and 11 assists.
"We needed to learn how to stay with the same energy through all four quarters."
The Breakers shot just four from 29 at 13 per cent from three-point range and 37 percent from the field.
Yet they still looked in the hunt in the final term when marquee man Lamar Patterson (eight points, four assists) threatened with misfiring star Tai Webster (13 points) and brother Corey (seven points) benched for the majority of the final term.
Patterson started the game on the bench and only had two points from 1-2 shooting from field in the first half before making his presence felt.
Breakers forward Finn Delany (11 points, four rebounds) also looked dangerous before getting into foul trouble.
"We need to find the right chemistry between people," Breakers coach Dan Shamir said after being asked about experimenting with his line-up and benching the Websters on Monday.