Despite Adelaide's thrilling 91-90 overtime win over Wollongong at the WIN Entertainment Centre, the 36ers remain the only team out of playoff contention with the Taipans suddenly storming back into the mix with their 78-75 victory over the Crocs in the Reptile Rumble in Cairns on Friday.
While New Zealand (20-3) and Perth (18-5) are locked in for top-two spots and Melbourne (10-12) looks reasonably secure in third with Sydney, Wollongong, Cairns and Townsville all a chance to end up fourth if they can string some wins together.
The Kings are currently fourth with a 10-13 record but have lost seven games in-a-row. Wollongong (10-14) is fourth but has lost 11 of its last 13 games and has just four matches remaining for the season.
Cairns has now won two of its last three games to improve to an 8-14 record and the Taipans have six games remaining.
Townsville did look the team most likely to snatch fourth two weeks ago having recovered from an 0-10 start to win eight its next 10 games, but three straight losses now have the Crocs in trouble at 8-15 with games against Sydney (twice), Wollongong and Melbourne (twice) to finish.
On Friday night in the final Reptile Rumble of the season, Cairns prevailed in a thriller over the Crocs by three points thanks to a late three-point bomb from Cameron Gliddon.
The Crocs were well on top early leading 45-31 at half-time, but the Snakes hit back to lead by three quarter-time by a point. In the end, it came down to the last shot by Gliddon and he nailed it.
Alex Loughton top-scored for Cairns with 24 points with Jamar Wilson adding 15 to go with 10 rebounds and five assists. Aaron Grabau added 14 points and seven boards with Shane Edwards finishing with 12 points and eight rebounds.
Coach Aaron Fearne labelled his team as mentally soft after a loss last Saturday, and was happy to see more poise down the stretch.
"We were in a pretty big hole but they battled hard, pegged it in, couldn't get over the hump and then got the crowd involved and played with some okay execution down the stretch," Fearne said.
"There was some improvement there and to get a win like that; we haven't won many like that this season."
Crocs point guard Gary Ervin scored 18 points with Peter Crawford scoring 12, Michael Cedar 12 and Luke Nevill 10.
While Loughton said the Crocs could feel unlucky not to get the chocolates, Crocs coach Paul Woolpert was not about to curse the basketball gods.
"It comes down to hustle and desire. It's going and getting the basketball, and we didn't do it. I think that's the rap on our team in this league," Woolpert said.
"It's hard to win basketball games when out-rebounded 43-27 and when you give your opponent 16 more field goal attempts. We did a lot of things well though, but Alex Loughton was outstanding and you can't win games giving those things to your opponents."
Then in Wollongong, Adelaide bounced back from an eight-point deficit with a minute remaining in the fourth quarter to force overtime when Anthony Petrie nailed an awesome buzzer-beating long-range bomb.
Then in overtime, the Sixers got the advantage when Stephen Weigh hit a go-ahead free-throw before Wollongong's big man Larry Davidson missed a desperation full-court attempt. It only just missed though.
Petrie finished with 26 points and eight rebounds with Daniel Johnson adding 18 points and Adam Gibson 21 to go with his five rebounds and five assists.
"From our coaches to our players, this is one of the hardest working groups I've played with,'' Petrie said.
''Every single day no matter what was going on, everyone turned up and worked really hard and we'll continue to do that.''
Tim Coenraad scored a game-high 28 points for Wollongong with new import Malcolm Grant adding 15 points. Coach Gordie McLeod hopes his team learns from the fadeout.
''They made big plays and in the end we made some poor decisions,'' McLeod said.
''Hopefully we can learn from that, because we can't make that mistake again, the clock was in our favour and we had a couple of poor fouls at bad times.''