ALEX FAIR THE ADVOCATE North-West Tall Timbers Thunder coach Sam Armstrong has praised the mental strength of his troops following Saturday night’s one-point triumph against Canberra in the nation’s capital.
An eight point deficit at the first change was cut to five at half-time, with the Thunder making their move in the third with a 21-13 period seeing them up by three at the final change before collecting their seventh win of the season by the smallest winning margin possible.
“It was good to get the win, but obviously we didn’t play our best basketball,’’ Armstrong said on Sunday.
“But at the same time to not to play your best and get a win is pleasing.”
“I thought defensively we were poor in the first quarter giving up 26, but then to give 40 points over the next three-quarters, we definitely got better defensively, but it was probably a night where we couldn’t really find our rhythm offensively and that was really our issue.
“We struggled through patches, so it was good to get a grind out and make some plays when they counted down the stretch.
“We haven’t had a game like that this year where it has been close right down until a shot either way, and those games you always take a lot out of. Canberra is a really tough place to go and play and previously we have had some struggles up here. Statistically it was probably not a game we should have won, but we did enough to get it done, so the guys will take a lot from that.”
Ben Richmond and Mason Bragg finished with 15 points each, with Richmond having five rebounds and Bragg three and six assists.
Skipper Jeremiah Ingram had 13 points, nine rebounds and two assists and Tre Armstrong had 11 points, two rebounds and one assist.
“To tell you the truth I think everybody was just okay and we didn’t have any real standouts, but Benny Richmond made a couple of big plays for us in the third quarter and had a couple of big threes which got us back into the game a little bit.
“But it really was an even contribution from us and no-one really stood out, but everyone played their role at certain times.”
Friday night’s forfeit by the COE combined with Saturday’s win gives the Thunder a 7-5 record and keeps them well and truly in touch with the top eight.
“For us with the COE forfeit just showed how important last night’s win to put us 7-5 before we have our break and as we then come home to play a team like Melbourne (on Saturday, June 16, in Ulverstone) who are in super form.
“We’re pretty pleased to be 7-5 at this stage.”
Armstrong said he felt the break next weekend due to the Queen’s Birthday long weekend id nicely timed, and would give his group a chance to mentally and physically recharge ahead of the clash with the 7-4 Melbourne.