North West Thunder take on the Hobart Huskies in Saturday night’s NBL1 clash at Kingborough

BRAD COLE   THE ADVOCATE   For the North-West Thunder over the past two seasons, games against a team from Hobart have resulted in nothing but heartache, frustration and a blowout loss.

But in 2019 it’s a new league, a new Hobart team and even a different stadium for the first Tasmanian derby of the NBL1 competition.

While there are plenty of fresh faces in the Hobart line-up ahead of Saturday’s clash at Kingborough, Thunder coach Sam Armstrong is very wary of an opponent, who he believes, will only get better as the season progresses.

The Huskies, under new coach Mark Chivers, have started the season in similar fashion to their intrastate counterparts, defeating the Southern Sabres in round one before going down to Nunawading last week.

“This Hobart team resembles how we have been trying to rebuild over the past 12 months – they’ve taken a path of going back into their junior development and there are a lot of young faces who have been given the opportunity to play, which is good for Tassie basketball,” Armstrong said

“They’ve been a little bit hit-and-miss and made some mistakes like we have over the first two weeks, but that stuff takes time.

“They aren’t as predictable now as to where there shots are going to come from, they’re looking to spread the load a little bit more.

“But once they get their chemistry right and get some games under their belt, they’ll be more than capable, so we’ll be very watchful of this group on Saturday night for sure.”

For the Thunder to come away with the victory, they will need an improved shooting performance from what they produced last week against the Spectres, which saw them finish with 37 per cent rate from the field.

Armstrong said there has been a strong emphasis at training this week on converting open shots at the basket.

“We had plenty of good looks in the first half through our offensive structure, but we weren’t able to put any scoreboard pressure on Nunawading,” he said.

“Things could have looked a lot different at the break if we had of knocked some shots down and in this league you just have to take your opportunities when you are open.

“Nunawading made us pay and in the second half it was a struggle to score because we were trying to play catch-up against a quality team that had made some adjustments.”

For a rare occasion, the Thunder will be able to take a full squad of 12 players on a road trip, but Armstrong is still unsure on whether Matthiang Muo, a player who has caused plenty of issues in the past when wearing a Chargers singlet, will line up for the Huskies.

“I don’t think Matthiang was on their team sheet this week so we’re not sure if he will be playing or not,” Armstrong said.

“We’ll be preparing for him to be there.

“We have a healthy squad to take down, and hopefully along with it comes some of the good stuff we produced this week.”

Saturday night’s game gets underway at 8pm.

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