Kouat Noi flies high against the Kings.
Kouat Noi flies high against the Kings.

Secret behind Taipans rookie’s impact revealed

CAIRNS Taipans coach Mike Kelly and import point guard Scott Machado say Kouat Noi's hard work off the court makes him so good to watch in the NBL.

It comes after Australian basketball legend Shane Heal rated the Taipans rookie's opening-round performance as more impressive than Hawks' star import LaMelo Ball ahead of a blockbuster clash in Illawarra next week.

A four-time Olympian and an NBL champion in 2003, Heal rated Noi's performance better than the high-profile Ball during his appearance on this week's episode of The Basketball Show.

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 Heal declared Noi the best young baller in the first round, ahead of Ball and Melbourne United's Jo Lual-Acuiil.

Kelly and teammate Machado said it was the young rookie's work off the court which made him so good.

"The whole time Kouat's been here, you can see his talent," Kelly said.

"The great thing is his work ethic is on the same level as his talent.

"I think he played well on Friday and I think he's going to improve. Once he gets used to the league and the players, he's going to get better."

Machado sees the work Noi does day in, day out, and the Newcastle-raised Australian junior representative's competitive streak makes a major difference to the lineup.

"He goes out there and he looks like he's trying to win every game so that's what I like about him," Machado said.

Noi and Ball will share the court next Monday when the Taipans swing by Illawarra on the second leg of a four-game road trip.

Ball's first NBL outing in the Hawks' nine-point loss to Brisbane Bullets has been heavily praised, as he filled the stats sheet with 12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals - and no turnovers.

It made him the first player in NBL history to earn a double-double with five assists and no turnovers on debut.

Noi was sensational for the Taipans, as he became the first rookie in club history to earn a double-double on debut.

He finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, and his high-energy was on display as the Taipans led the Sydney Kings for three quarters.

The Taipans face the Bullets in Brisbane on Friday night.