Star recruit: New-look Taipans are ready to rumble
CAIRNS power forward Lucas Walker says a new-look Taipans are ready to rumble in Saturday's "Sunshine Stoush'' NBL clash with Brisbane.
The Bullet start their 2018-19 campaign with an away game against New Zealand in Auckland on Thursday night, but will host Cairns on Saturday night in what will be the Snakes' season opener.
Cairns have undergone a significant overhaul over winter, with new head coach Mike Kelly assembling an almost unrecognisable roster with precious few survivors from the hard-nosed defensive era under departed mentor Aaron Fearne.
The Taipans have embraced a different style of play under Kelly with more of a license to thrill, with a trio of imports - DJ Newbill, Melo Trimble and NBA second round draft pick Devon Hall - leading the charge.
Walker, Nate Jawai, Alex Loughton and Kiwi Rob Loe will be the muscle to complement the hustle from the Americans.
Walker is still overcoming an ankle injury that has prevented him from getting any court time in the pre-season and is fighting hard to prove his fitness for the weekend but is still considered a doubtful starter.
Whether he suits up or not, Walker said after a long pre-season, the Taipans cannot wait to rip into the Queensland derby in which former Cairns captain Cam Gliddon will play for the Bullets.
"There's a bit of excitement around it, especially with Cammy Gliddon so that will be hyped up,'' Walker said.
"Sometimes the pre-season feels like it flies by but at other times it feels like an eternity after three months of slogging it out and beating up on one another.
"So when the real deal rolls around, it's great.
"It's an exciting time for us especially because we have a new group of players and a new head coach with just a few guys hanging around from last year.
"We are learning something new every day and getting better every day. It's a pretty good mix with the Aussie guys and the imports.
"There's good chemistry off the court because we have played eight games on the road this pre-season so we've spent plenty of time together and got to know each other.''
Cairns will play their first home game against Illawarra on Sunday week.