First-half slide floors Bandits

THE Albury-Wodonga Bandits remain winless in their SEABL preseason after a second-quarter meltdown cost them dearly against a Eurobasket representative team at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre last night.

Again playing without team MVP Alex Opacic (quad strain) and star centre Momo Ntumba, the Border club could manage just 18 points to half-time in an eventual 82-58 defeat which followed Sunday’s narrow loss to the Canberra Gunners in Wagga.

A good-sized crowd saw the short-handed Bandits force passes, rush shots and not play with the same intensity as the visitors, who were not only stacked with US college players but also had the luxury of running five fresh players into the game whenever they made a substitution.

There was an improved showing in the second half as the hosts crept to within 67-48 with more than six minutes remaining, but that would be as close as they got.

Point guard Jamar Briscoe was struggling with fatigue but still top-scored for the Bandits with 13 points, while fellow recruit Alex Bogart-King added 12.

For the visitors, long-range bomber Jason Smeathers led the way with 19 points and forward John Lewis — who could return to the Border in a training role with the Bandits — chimed in with 14.

Bandits coach Brad Chalmers admitted the defeat was a step backwards from the performance against Canberra.

“It wasn’t great, we probably regressed from Sunday,” Chalmers said.

“We took some things from that game we wanted to keep working on and we probably went the opposite way.

“And it was only a six- or seven-minute patch in the second quarter that we fell completely to bits.

“We only scored 18 points in the first half so that was really disappointing too.

“Some of the guys just aren’t in a rhythm right now and they’re learning new sets.

“We understand that and this is what these games are for.

“We’ll go back and make some adjustments and keep progressing to round 1.”

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