THE Albury-Wodonga Bandits suffered a potentially fatal blow to their SEABL title defence with a heartbreaking double overtime defeat to the Kilsyth Cobras on Saturday night.
In a classic, see- sawing affair, neither team would gain the decisive upper hand until late in the sixth period as the Snakes slipped past the Border club 100-95 at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre.
The devastating defeat leaves the Bandits with a 6-13 win-loss record, 2½ games behind the fourth-placed Cobras and facing a do-or-die clash with Nunawading this Friday.
A win over Kilsyth would have pushed the Border club to within striking distance of a playoff berth; now it must win and rely on other results to fall its way.
Coach Brad Chalmers admitted it was a defeat that was going to cause him more than a few sleepless nights.
“It’s a tough one to swallow, no doubt about that,” Chalmers said.
“The intent and energy was pretty good and defensively we were OK.
“But when it came to crunch time, we missed some big shots and just the lack of execution on our end.
“We probably just lost that willingness to take the game and put it away.
“We got complacent about sealing the deal, gave them a sniff and they took it.”
The Bandits are yet to win consecutive games and Chalmers was left to lament his team’s atrocious shooting display.
Four of the five Bandits starters accounted for 93 of the 102 total shots attempted as the Border outfit shot a paltry 35 per cent from the field.
Chief offender was playmaker Jermel Jenkins, who misfired on 25 of his 34 attempts on his way to 24 points, while fellow import Flenard Whitfield (7/20, 16 points) fared little better.
Captain Nick Payne added 18 points and 11 rebounds and Alex Opacic equalled Jenkins’ 24 points but also suffered through a sub-par shooting night with only Ben Hollis (nine points, 14 boards) above 50 per cent.
“Yeah, you can’t really blame too many guys outside those three key guys,” Chalmers said.
“When you look at the teams around the league, their key players are playing well and they win basketball games.
“We’ve just had our key guys over the course of the season be way too inconsistent with their play and that’s hurt us. When we play well, we’re as good as anyone; if they’re off 5-10 per cent, we fall back to the pack quickly.
“It’s frustrating for all of us; we probably should have won the game and you just can’t give teams a sniff.”