IT may have come too little, too late but the Albury-Wodonga Bandits can finally say they’re on a winning streak.
The Border club tasted success in consecutive SEABL matches for the first time this season with an impressive 89-73 road win over the Canberra Gunners on Saturday night at the Belconnen Basketball Stadium.
A fast start saw the Bandits jump out to an 18-2 advantage and were never headed thereafter to improve their overall record to 9-15 with four games remaining on the schedule.
Incredibly, the Border outfit has a far superior road record (6-7) than it does at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre (3-8).
Bandits coach Brad Chalmers, while pleased to have won, admitted it was a damning statement about his team’s inconsistencies that it had taken 24 games to enjoy back-to-back wins.
“Yeah, it took a while,” Chalmers said.
“It is what it is, all year we just haven’t been able to get momentum and in and out of games.
“And week to week we’ve been up and down so it’s something I have to try to find an answer for the remainder of the year and into next year too.
“We were a little bit like that last year as well; we certainly found the right rhythm at the end of last season and we seem to be doing that now as well.
“Hopefully we can make the most of the last four games and finish the season really strongly.
“We’ve got a chance to win half our road games against Bendigo this week but we’ve dropped too many of those home games.
“That’s going to be the tale of our season, the poor performances at home in three or four games we should’ve won.”
The import combination of Flenard Whitfield (game-high 26 points and 10 rebounds) and Jermel Jenkins (22 points, nine boards) proved too much for the hosts, who were hounded into missing 54 of the 80 shots they took.
Bandits captain Nick Payne provided ample scoring support with 16 points and seven assists and also held Gunners guard Daniel Joyce to just four points on a nightmarish 0-9 shooting performance.
Former Bandit Jeff Dowdell also endured a game he’d prefer to forget, missing 10 of his 12 attempts to finish with just five points and six boards.
“Defensively, we were pretty good,” Chalmers said.
“They put a lot of pressure on us inside the paint.
“Early foul trouble for Ben (Hollis) and Flenard probably limited us a little there.
“But Payney and Alex (Opacic) did a really good job on Joyce and Dowdell, there’s no doubt about that.
“They got nothing easy, which was really a key for us.
“And to get the win was great; that was the most pleasing part.”
But the win didn’t come without cost with long-range sniper Matt de Koeyer ruled out for the rest of the season after breaking his foot and back-up forward Broady Mills having his nose broken after copping an errant elbow.
Jenkins also suffered a dislocated finger but is not expected to miss any games with the injury.
The Bandits head to Bendigo on Friday night before backing up on Saturday at home to the struggling Ballarat Miners, who have lost 12 straight games.