ALBURY-WODONGA BANDITS: Early promise gives way to easy defeat

Nick Payne had a solid game against the Sabres.

Nick Payne had a solid game against the Sabres.

IT was yet another weekend of disappointment for the Albury-Wodonga Bandits, soundly beaten in both SEABL road games to extend their losing streak to seven.

The Border outfit hasn’t tasted victory since its round eight win over Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence in mid-May and, following a competitive loss to Mount Gambier on Friday, was never really in the hunt against Sandringham on Saturday night.

A poor third quarter proved the difference against the Pioneers in a comfortable 92-74 defeat at the Icehouse which maintained their spot atop the South Conference standings.

Mount Gambier’s talented starting line-up proved too much for the Bandits, with Brad Hill leading a balanced attack with 23 points.

The Bandits were led by Alex Opacic’s 20 points, with import Lamar Mallory and guard Jack Duck chiming in with 17 and 14 points respectively.

But any positives taken from that match were swept away in the opening minutes of an eventual 99-82 loss to the Sabres.

A 30-17 first quarter meant the Bandits were always chasing, and despite closing to within eight points in the final minutes, could never bridge the gap.

The Bandits had no answers for Sabres import Junior Hairston, who almost certainly claimed Player of the Week honours with a 41-point explosion that included five of six marksmanship from international waters.

Mallory top-scored for the Bandits with 20 points, while Matt de Koeyer nailed four triples in his 14 points off the bench.

Playmaker Deuce Briscoe had a weekend to forget, tallying just 13 points over the two games and misfiring on 14 of the 19 shots he attempted.

Opacic said it was a frustrating weekend, especially after matching the Pioneers for the first half.

“Against Mount Gambier, we played well for three quarters but lost it in the third and never got it back,” he said.

“And then against Sandy we just looked like we weren’t ready to play.

“We played selfishly and looked lost. We battled back to get the margin to eight and then they ran away with it again.”

The Bandits play host to the Kilsyth Cobras this Friday night and Opacic said the Border club needed to fix its defensive liabilities if it wanted to gain anything from what has been an inglorious campaign.

“The little patches where we don’t play well, teams go up on us by 16, 18 points, not six or eight,” he said.

“We’ve just got to figure it out, it’s been a really frustrating season overall.

“We’re trying to stick together and work as hard as possible.

“That’s pretty much all we can do, fight to the end of the season.”