ALBURY-WODONGA BANDITS: Heat is on the Bandit leaders

Momo Ntumba is one of the players singled out to lift the bar. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

Momo Ntumba is one of the players singled out to lift the bar. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

ALBURY-Wodonga Bandits coach Brad Chalmers is hoping recent criticism of his team’s star players will serve as the impetus for a vastly improved performance as the Border club hits the road this weekend.

Following yet another disastrous third-quarter fade-out last Saturday against the Mount Gambier Pioneers, Chalmers said several players — notably Momo Ntumba and Alex Opacic — needed to raise their efforts for the Bandits to have any chance of improving a dismal 1-5 record.

With a tricky SEABL road double against Ballarat tomorrow night and Kilsyth on Sunday, Chalmers said he was confident his marquee players would step up when they were needed most.

“The mood is good, the feedback we got from last week’s post-game comments probably stirred things up a bit,” Chalmers said.

“We’re all accountable and now we need to go to work.

“We’re working together to make the right adjustments and that probably highlights the reality we face.

“And they guys all know, individually, they need to keep working hard.”

While the Bandits are riding a four-game losing streak, they take on a Miners outfit tomorrow riding a three-match winless run of its own.

And much like Albury-Wodonga, Ballarat is yet to taste victory at home and is relying heavily on its import players to lead the way.

With guard Roy Booker (23.2 points per game, 4.6 assists) and forward Ken Horton (22 points, 10.6 rebounds), the Miners have a neat one-two punch the Bandits will need to contain.

However, for Chalmers, it’s not just the defence that is of most concern for the Border club — he wants to see advancements made at both ends of the floor.

We’ve simply got to get some improvement,” Chalmers said.

“Defensively, I thought our adjustments were good against the Pioneers.

“We gave up far fewer points in the paint but we got passive on close-outs on their jump shooters so we need to improve there.

“Offensively we need to improve our ball movement; the ball just stops sometimes.

“Combine those things and you can see why our chemistry is maybe a little off.”

It’s a similar story when the Bandits visit the Kilsyth Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon, the only difference being the Cobras’ dynamic duo is home-grown.

Pivot Tim Lang (23.3 points, 6.9 boards) and playmaker Joel Naburgs (20.8 points, 5 assists) have combined to help Kilsyth to a 4-3 overall record, good for third in the South Conference.

“We can’t be one-up, one-down, you never make any ground and wind up chasing your tail,” Chalmers said.

“So while a split is the worst-case scenario, if we can get two wins, we’d be 3-5 and have five games to come at home against teams you might expect to beat.

“So for us, this weekend is critical.”