Melbourne United Shawn Long in defence against Cairns Taipans Nate Jawai during the Round 4 NBL match between the Cairns Taipans and Melbourne United at the Cairns Convention Centre in Cairns, Monday, October 28, 2019. (AAP Image/Marc McCormack)
Melbourne United Shawn Long in defence against Cairns Taipans Nate Jawai during the Round 4 NBL match between the Cairns Taipans and Melbourne United at the Cairns Convention Centre in Cairns, Monday, October 28, 2019. (AAP Image/Marc McCormack)

Jawai taking newbies under his giant wing

Nate Jawai has been a dad at home for years but Mike Kelly has revealed a "father figure" attitude from the co-captain is driving the Cairns Taipans this season.

The experienced big man and American two guard DJ Newbill have taken on the leadership role as co-captains this season, replacing retired legend Alex Loughton, who held the role last campaign.

Jawai was a force under the bucket as he regularly got deep post touches that Melbourne United could not handle on Monday night.

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He would collect a team-high 18 points in a strong outing for the experienced power player. In just 14 minutes on court in the upset triumph over United, it was an excellent return from the 33-year-old centre.

Cairns' import trio would also contribute offensively to the second half surge, leading to a 90-85 victory over last season's NBL runners-up.

 

 

Melbourne United Alex Pledger tries to stop Cairns Taipans Nate Jawai during the Round 4 NBL match between the Cairns Taipans and Melbourne United at the Cairns Convention Centre in Cairns, Monday, October 28, 2019. (AAP Image/Marc McCormack)
Melbourne United Alex Pledger tries to stop Cairns Taipans Nate Jawai during the Round 4 NBL match between the Cairns Taipans and Melbourne United at the Cairns Convention Centre in Cairns, Monday, October 28, 2019. (AAP Image/Marc McCormack)

 

Kelly was there last season when Jawai took a back seat to Loughton's leadership, but he has seen growth and improvement in that area for the former NBA big man over the last few months.

"He is taking it on … he has got fatherly with a few of the new players and taken them under his wing," Kelly said after the win over Melbourne.

"He has been genuine about (it), he still deals with his frustrations and wants to play a lot but he is trying to fulfil his role as best he can in this team.

"He has done a good job of being aware of more people than just himself, more so than last year."

The Snakes, who are now 2-4 and have beaten the two clubs who played in last seasons grand final, soon head across the ditch to face the NZ Breakers in a Thursday afternoon contest to open Round 5.

News Corp Australia

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