ALBURy-WODONGA BANDITS: There’s no place like home

ALBURY-Wodonga Bandits coach Brad Chalmers says the club will look to make the most of an extended stretch of SEABL home games as it looks to bounce back from a frustrating start to the season.

The Bandits play their next four games in the friendly confines of the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre, starting tomorrow night against the young guns of Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence.

Fresh off a confidence-building win over the heavily-favoured Bendigo Braves last weekend, the Bandits (2-7) sit in sixth place in the East Conference, 2½ games behind fourth-placed Ballarat.

Chalmers saw no reason why the Border club couldn’t continue that against the bottom-placed CoE (1-9), which has endured a torrid start to its maiden SEABL campaign.

“We’re feeling good after the win,” Chalmers said.

“It just gives the group an extra boost of self-confidence.

“A win like that doesn’t mask any frailties and there’s a belief that we can keep doing it.

“But the CoE will be a different beast to Bendigo, they’ll be much better in transition.

“We’ve had a bad patch and now we’ve got some home games to make a stand.

“We just have to get it done now, no excuses.

“We need to be 5-7 at the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, that’s the plan.”

Against the CoE, the Bandits will look to clamp down on Jack McVeigh (12.6 points per game) and Dejan Vasiljevic (12), as the visitors have struggled for offensive punch all season, topping 90 points just twice in 10 games.

Albury-Wodonga enjoyed a relatively comfortable 71-61 road win over the CoE in round 2 but Chalmers was in no mood for complacency.

“Looking at their results, they were pretty good in all three games (last weekend),” Chalmers said.

“Their talent level is high but we also know what we have to do.

“Last time we played them, we took away their strengths and attacked the weaknesses.

“For a lot of them, they’re used to getting to the rim so we’ll try to deny them that.

“The physical nature of the league catches up to them and we need to make sure they feel uncomfortable.

“They’re absolutely a dangerous group now as they’ve got more comfortable and have a win under their belt.”

Bandits captain Michael Watson (calf) is expected to miss a second straight game, while Chalmers will again use Momo Ntumba and Jack Duck off the bench after the success of last week’s starting unit.

Both players have been nursing minor injuries, with Duck battling shin splints and Ntumba carrying soreness in his surgically-repaired knee.

But having watched the Congolese import tally 14 points and eight boards in a reserve role last week, Chalmers was confident Ntumba would still make an impact.

“Momo will come off the bench again,” Chalmers said.

“We’ll stick with that for now, it keeps him a bit fresher, just trying to stay on top of what is a niggling problem.”

With the Lady Bandits enjoying the week off, the Bandits and CoE will tipoff at the earlier time of 6pm.

The game will be followed by the Bandits’ annual trivia night and tickets are still available at $10 each.

Contact Nina Merrilees for further information on 0418 492 397.

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