The Albury-Wodonga Bandits face a stern test of character this weekend as they try to get their SEABL campaign back on track.
With road games against traditional powerhouses Geelong tonight and then Knox tomorrow evening, the Border club desperately needs, at the minimum, a split of its road trip.
Two losses would put the Bandits at 1-4 before the Easter break and — depending on other results — staring down the barrel of an ever-widening gap with the top four.
The Bandits held a players-only meeting before training on Tuesday night in an attempt to solve the offensive woes that were so evident after a good start against Sandringham last weekend.
Coach Brad Chalmers said he was pleased the team had taken it upon itself to be accountable for its own poor play.
“They’ve managed that themselves, which is a good sign of their growth,” Chalmers said.
“This wouldn’t have happened a couple of years ago.
“In saying that, what’s the outcome going to be?
“Coaches can only coach so much — we feel we’ve got a good system in place, when they’ve done it well, the by-product has been good.
“The players need to understand they’re more in control of what happens than I am.”
As ever, Geelong presents a formidable challenge, with a roster chock-full of talent.
The Supercats added pivot Eric Gaff to join fellow US import Mike Mercer and a host of quality Australian players including Ash Cannan and Nathan Herbert.
Meanwhile, Knox, despite being winless thus far, will also be tough to beat in the friendly confines of the State Basketball Centre.
But Chalmers said he thought the Bandits had shown enough to be optimistic of one, or even two wins this weekend.
“I think we’re playing well enough in patches to be really confident,” Chalmers said.
“We just need to do it for more than two quarters.
“I think everyone und-erstands we’ve let ourselves down.
“Every game, we’ve been great early but we’ve tailed away.
“You can’t do that and our inconsistency has hurt us.
“But we’re confident we can cause some havoc, be really competitive and get our season back on track.”
For the second time in three weeks, the Bandits need their import players — Momo Ntumba and Jamar Briscoe — to reb-ound from sub-par performances.
Ntumba was almost irr-elevant against the Sabres, recording just four points and six rebounds, while Briscoe misfired on 15 of his 20 shot att-empts.
Chalmers admitted that as Ntumba and Briscoe go, so goes the fortunes of the Border club.
“We certainly need our guys to play a little better; I don’t think Momo could play any worse than he did last week,” Chalmers said.
“And Deuce (Briscoe) didn’t play well, either.
“They both know they can’t go on dishing that up so we can only go forward in that regard.
“We need them to fire, we’ll ride them hard and, hopefully, they’ll be a little stung by their performances and come ready to go.”