Imports key to Albury-Wodonga Bandits' gritty SEABL win

IT certainly wasn’t pretty but for Albury-Wodonga Bandits coach Brad Chalmers, a win is a win.

The Border club opened its SEABL account with a grit-filled 71-61 triumph over Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence at the AIS Training Hall in Canberra on Saturday night.

Playing without key frontcourt players Alex Opacic and Alex Bogart-King (both unavailable), the Bandits withstood a second-quarter assault from the young guns before hitting some big shots in the final period to square their overall record at 1-1.

“It was a good contest, they played decent basketball but for us it’s just a good outcome,” Chalmers said.

“We played hard, made some good adjustments and did some soul-searching.

“Our intensity levels were great and our defensive pressure was really good.

“We were hungry and we created a lot of second chances just through effort.

“All the 1 per cent things we didn’t do last week, it was like chalk and cheese this week.

“At the end of the day, we’ll take the win and move on.”

Bandits imports Jamar Briscoe and Momo Ntumba firmly stamped their authority on the match, with Briscoe scoring a game-high 26 points (11/26 field goals, 4/9 three-pointers) and Ntumba adding a powerful double-double of 20 points and 17 rebounds.

The Centre of Excellence was led by Xavier Cooks’ 14 points and eight boards but a lack of offensive punch meant the hosts struggled to match Albury-Wodonga for the entire 40 minutes.

“Deuce (Briscoe) played pretty well in patches and he had patches where he was a bit quiet,” Chalmers said.

“But then he hit some big shots too, which is great for his confidence.

“Momo did a power of work; he probably should’ve had 30 points to be honest, when you look at his free-throw shooting (4/10 from the line).

“And he probably missed half-a-dozen easy shots so he’s left at least 10 points on the table.

“But in saying all that, we also had guys who, even if they weren’t shooting well, did some other things to contribute.”

After last week’s disappointing opening round defeat to North West Tasmania, Chalmers admitted he was delighted to see signs of the Bandits’ signature defensive ethos come to the fore.

The Bandits held the Centre of Excellence to a miserly 35 per cent shooting from the field and allowed just 24 points after half-time.

Bandits centre Momo Ntumba powered the Border club to its first win of the SEABL season on Saturday night.

Bandits centre Momo Ntumba powered the Border club to its first win of the SEABL season on Saturday night.