Albury-Wodonga Bandits beaten in mental battle, again

THE Albury-Wodonga Bandits remain winless at home after a demoralising 87-76 SEABL defeat to the Sandringham Sabres at the weekend.

In what is rapidly becoming a dangerous habit, the Border outfit let a double-digit lead slip away before half-time and then faded badly when the game was up for grabs in the final quarter.

Offensive execution, or a lack thereof, again hurt the Bandits, hitting just 5/19 shots in the fourth period and coach Brad Chalmers admitted his team lacked cohesion right now.

“It just evaporated for us and that’s a mental thing,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s a physical thing, I think mentally, we just switched off.

“We spoke about the need to be engaged but to come out so flat at the start of the third quarter, guys were just looking around.

“The imports were flat and from there we were never able to get some continuous scoring avenues.

“It’s disappointing to drop one at home but we just have to stay positive and understand that when we play the right way, we do well.”

The Bandits were led by Alex Opacic’s 18 points but he only had six points after quarter-time following a torrid opening.

Alex Bogart-King added 12 points and Nick Payne 11 but of far more concern was the lack of offence from imports Jamar Briscoe and Momo Ntumba, who were well held to 14 and just four points respectively.

The ageless Nathan Crosswell led Sandringham with 26 points while Michael Moore added a handy 19, and seven rebounds.

“Right now, teams think they can come in here and beat us,” Chalmers said.

“We have to change that mentality and the only way to do that is by forcing that on the opposition.

“I’m not overly critical tonight, we’re still in the mix but that last quarter, we lost our enthusiasm a bit. We were poor defensively; our guards didn’t contain enough and Sandy made some tough layups.

“If we can get the mental side of things right in the next few weeks we’ll be OK; it’s not doom and gloom but it is frustrating.”

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