Two years ago the Adelaide 36ers set a new standard for NBL teams by toppling the Oklahoma City Thunder in a stunning pre-season result when Josh Giddey was playing for the Australian outfit.
But any hopes the Cairns Taipans had of emulating that feat in their clash with the Washington Wizards on Wednesday were blown away in a 44-point first quarter demolition by the NBA outfit that ended in a humbling 145-82 defeat.
The Taipans were down by as many as 65 points in the final quarter as the Wizards went to their bench, using 16 players to inflict maximum damage on their well-beaten opponents.
Despite being three games into their regular season in the NBL, the Taipans were no match for Kyle Kuzma and the Wizards who were playing their opening match of the NBA pre-season in Washington.
The opening gambit from the home side was just the start of what was to come, with a 21-point quarter-time lead, 36 at halftime, then a mammoth 48 points at the final change as the Wizards put on a show of talent and strength.
Even with Kuzma given a rest last in the game, after powering his way to 22 points, which allowed last year’s NBL MVP Xavier Cooks, now with the Wizards, to get court time, there was little respite for the Taipans.
For the Taipans, who only had nine players after Sam Waardenburg and Sam Mennenga were made unavailable due to illness, Akoldah Gak was the leading scorer with 17 points, with Patrick Miller next best with 15.
It’s the fifth time in seven years that NBL teams will participate in the NBA pre-season, with the Taipans coming off a controversial 89-86 win over the Brisbane Bullets last weekend.
The Taipans will be looking to deliver something better when they play their second game of the US tour against the Toronto Raptors.