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Bullets beat Cairns, still NBL contenders

It seemed like Mission Impossible.

Yet Brisbane remain in the NBL top-four hunt after a stunning 124-88 victory over arch rivals Cairns on Saturday at Nissan Arena.

The Bullets needed to beat the third-placed Taipans by at least 34 points in their final regular-season game to keep their faint finals hopes alive.

Remarkably, Brisbane pulled off the daunting task in front of a delirious sold-out crowd.

Now for the hard part.

The Bullets (15-13 record) have to rely on Melbourne United being upset by second-last South East Melbourne on Sunday to scrape into the playoffs.

United (14-13 record) are expected to thrash the Phoenix after receiving a shot of confidence on Thursday night with their 16-point win over the Taipans.

Melbourne United can leapfrog the NZ Breakers (15-13) and the Bullets if they down a Phoenix side without star Mitch Creek (knee) due to their superior points percentage.

Whoever finishes fourth starts their best of three semi-final series from February 29 against minor premiers Sydney.

Still, the Bullets are daring to dream after Saturday's result, inspired by Nathan Sobey (30 points), Cameron Gliddon (25pts) and EJ Singler (21pts).

"I've never been more proud of a team," Bullets head coach Andrej Lemanis said. "There's no point getting to tomorrow and Melbourne happen to lose ... and (thinking) 'if only'.

"So we were all-in. We were going to take some chances, take some risks, play at a much faster tempo than we normally play and see what happens."

Brisbane kept their supporters on the edge of their seats as they prayed for what seemed an unlikely 34-plus margin despite their fast start.

They jumped to a staggering 39-15 first-quarter lead, but had it cut to 18 by halftime (63-45) before finding another gear in the second half.

They led 98-69 at the last break but didn't crack a 30-point lead until the final term.

As fans crossed their fingers for the miracle win, Gliddon sank two free throws to push Brisbane past a 34-point lead for the first time in the dying seconds.

The Bullets are hoping for a finals great escape for the second-straight season.

Last season, they entered the final round in fifth and scraped into the playoffs after beating the Breakers and fourth-placed Adelaide lost.

The Taipans need to regroup before their semi-finals series from February 28 against second-placed Perth.

They were on a four-game winning run before suffering the 16-point loss to Melbourne United and Saturday's defeat.

"If you look at the locker room, the guys weren't happy to get their tails kicked ....but the guys feel pretty good right now as far as big picture," Taipans coach Mike Kelly said.