The Skytrans Cairns Marlins’ 2016 QBL campaign received a boost today with the signing of veteran CQUniversity Cairns Taipans forwards Cameron Tragardh and Alex Loughton.
The pair provide the Marlins with crucial firepower and size in the frontcourt, following the departure of big men Matt Andronicos (Bendigo) and Matt Smith (retired).
Head coach Jamie Pearlman said their combined 18 seasons and 556 games of NBL experience will help his young squad challenge powerhouse QBL sides such as Rockhampton and Mackay.
“Cam and Alex bring a tremendous amount of experience, leadership and a great understanding of the game, which will definitely help our young guys improve their ability to make reads on the floor,” Pearlman said.
“They’ll be the most dominant front court in the league with their NBL experience.”
“They’ll be formidable and will add that necessary strength we need to challenge for the QBL title.”
Pearlman said the long NBL off-season was a catalyst to the signing.
“It was two-fold: with a shortened NBL season there’s a big period between the end of season and the beginning of the next. It’s a long period of time to not play competitively.”
“It’s about them continuing to play, keeping great touch and working on their games.
“It is also an opportunity for those younger guys to play alongside two NBL veterans, and that will help them become better basketball players.”
Despite his depth of professional experience, Loughton will effectively be a QBL rookie, but Tragardh on the other hand is no stranger to QBL action.
In 177 QBL appearances since 2002 Tragardh averaged 30.6 points and 11.6 rebounds, winning two QBL championships with Southwest Metro (2003) and Southern Districts (2005), and claiming QBL MVP honours in 2005, 2008 and 2009.
As an 18-year-old he was the national leading scorer with 35 points per game, while in 2009 he averaged 42 points per game, setting a QBL-record 70 points for Northside Wizards against the Toowoomba Mountaineers during a stretch of six 50-point bursts in eight games.
Loughton and Tragardh, both on contract for one more season with the Taipans, will take the Marlins’ two spots allocated to restricted players under QBL rules.
Off-contract Taipans point guard Shaun Bruce (also a restricted player) will therefore now seek other opportunities for the NBL off-season.