Poor start but Albury-Wodonga Bandits not panicking yet

The Bandits’ Momo Ntumba in action against North West Tasmania on Saturday. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

The Bandits’ Momo Ntumba in action against North West Tasmania on Saturday. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

ALBURY-Wodonga Bandits coach Brad Chalmers is refusing to hit the panic button just yet despite a deeply disappointing SEABL opening round 91-74 defeat to the North West Tasmania Thunder.

A packed Lauren Jackson Sports Centre saw the Bandits’ game dissipate in a cloud of poor decisions and insipid defence after some promising play in the opening minutes.

An offensive drought in the latter stages of the second quarter was compounded by a disastrous third period that saw the Bandits give up 31 points to a rampant Thunder to trail 70-49 with 10 minutes to play.

Any hopes of a miracle comeback were quickly snuffed out.

A fired-up Thunder squad kept its foot on the Bandits’ collective throat, only easing up in the final minutes with the result long since decided.

Chalmers said the Bandits never really felt comfortable against the visitors’ zone defence and paid the price.

“We talked about making a few adjustments at half-time and that didn’t happen,” Chalmers said.

“So I’ve got to get back on there and try to find a way to get the kinks out.

“I’ll take my share of blame for the loss and move on.

“Certainly not panicking yet, it’s one game but a game we felt like we should’ve won.”

Import guard BJ Jenkins led a balanced scoring attack for North West Tasmania with 31 points as four of the five Thunder starters enjoyed double-figure scoring.

Fellow US playmaker Jamar Briscoe paced the Bandits’ scoring with 19 points but was held to just nine points after quarter-time.

Young Border product Jacob Cincurak showed some promise with a pair of triples in his SEABL debut.

But the positives were few and far between for Albury-Wodonga.

Chalmers was quick to note the stark difference between his more experienced players and the enthusiasm of the Thunder’s relatively inexperienced squad.

“We had one field goal between Alex Opacic and Alex Bogart-King, both didn’t really give us much,” he said.

“When you see our kids like Jacob (Cincurak) and Josh McKay come in at the end and do some good stuff you just wonder.

“And from their end, the Thunder had all their kids enthusiastic and aggressive.”

The Bandits will travel to Canberra next week as they try to bounce back.

They will take on the young guns of Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence.