INTENSITY, effort and smarts.
For the Albury-Wodonga Bandits, two out of three wasn’t enough in their SEABL season finale last night.
There was no lack of spirit for the defending champions but poor decision making cost the Border outfit dearly in a 77-73 defeat to the Brisbane Spartans.
In a bruising encounter at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre, the short-handed Bandits battled back from the brink several times but lacked the late-game execution to pull-off an inspired win.
Captain Nick Payne brought the Bandits to within one point late in the game but his attempt to send the game into overtime fell short, cementing Brisbane’s place in the South Conference playoffs.
Playing without guards Jermel Jenkins and Michael Watson, Albury-Wodonga was led by Payne’s masterful 25-point, 11-rebound, six-assist performance.
But Flenard Whitfield (16 points, six boards) and Alex Opacic (14 points, seven rebounds) were the only other notable scorers, the Bandits misfiring on 15 of their 18 attempts from international waters.
Bandits coach Brad Chalmers was clearly frustrated by his team’s lack of offensive execution.
“That killed us, the effort was there but just some boneheaded decisions,” Chalmers said.
“And that’s so frustrating; yeah the intensity was there but I just ask us to play smart and execute and we’d be fine.
“I trusted that the guys we had would get it done but we just didn’t run our stuff very well.
“We didn’t have any point guards and Nick was running on empty but it was all the stuff prior to that.
“Missed free throws, dumb fouls, turnovers, just not strong with the ball.
“It’s the classic one of shooting yourself in the foot, we had that game if we wanted to take it and unfortunately, for all the good effort, we just didn’t play very smart.”