Defence the key for the North-West Thunder ahead of SEABL clash with Hobart Chargers

ALEX FAIR   THE ADVOCATE   Coach Sam Armstrong says defence will be key for the North-West Tall Timbers Thunder as they fight for their 2018 SEABL life against the Hobart Chargers on Friday.

The Chargers have won the past three against the Thunder by an average of 34.7 points, a daunting statistic for a side needing to win to guarantee finals.

“We are aware of what is at stake and we want to be part of the finals series,’’ Armstrong said on Thursday ahead of facing what he described as the best offensive team in the league.

”We do know there are some teams that if we make the finals that wouldn’t look forward to playing us, but what it is about for us at the moment is that we do know what is at stake on Friday, and we have to go through one of the best teams in the league on their home court to give us that chance.

“For us what it will be needed is a collective 40-minute defensive effort, and that is what we have let ourselves down in the past against them as they have so many weapons.

“You can’t miss a play and you can’t rest for one play, or they will grab you by the throat, so we know we will need that collective effort defensively and our defence will really need to be in overdrive if we are to compete with them.

“For them one, two, three, four and five can all score and score very heavily, so we are not focused on any one guy, as we can’t afford to do that, and it won’t be one guy’s assignment to shut one guy down, we will have to do that collectively as a group.

“We will rotate guys onto different players at different times to maintain that defensive effort, as we know that’s what it will take to do it.” 

Armstrong described last week’s loss to Diamond Valley as  “wake-up call”, acknowledging his side couldn’t again concede 95 points, but he believed it would hold them in good stead for Friday.

“Sometimes though with our inconsistency we have been able to rebound pretty well and at times this year when we have had our backs against the wall we have had guys step up to keep ourselves in the hunt, and that is no different to this week,’’ Armstrong said.

“We’ve got to bounce back after a disappointing loss on our home court, and we don’t have time to dwell on that, but we have to understand that we did some things in that game that just won’t hold against Hobart or other teams we would face in the finals series.

“I have full faith in our group as for a younger group they have been punching above their weight all year, and there has been some big expectation on some young guys to produce.

“But they are team that goes out their on the floor and just bust their butts for 40 minutes, and we do know we will need a collective effort from everyone at both ends of the court.

“If we come out and play our brand of basketball and sustain that for a long period of time, we have the confidence we can push a team on their own floor, and if we do that for long enough the result will take care of itself.”

There will also be plenty on the line for their opponents. The Chargers will enter the round in third spot with a 14-5 record and on the back of a six-game winning streak, needing to win, and gain some extra percentage to ensure they can finish second on the ladder.

The Thunder, who have a 10-9 record, could finish as high as sixth if they win and other results go their way.

Friday’s contest at the Derwent Entertainment Centre will start at 8pm. 

Armstrong a fan of Huskies idea

Meanwhile, Armstrong has thrown his support Tasmania’s NBL bid, believing the whole state should get behind it.

And Armstrong is not one who believes that it would end up being more of a Hobart team than a Tasmanian team after it was revealed that its name would be the Southern Huskies.  

“I think this is all really exciting to be honest,’’ Armstrong said on Thursday.

“This is exciting for the people of Tasmania that there are people pushing this really, really hard and I think all the steps they have taken to this point do look exciting, and I think it is chance to happen.

“This is something that Tasmania needs to get behind, and the concept they have put up makes a lot of sense and if it launches it will be something completely new and completely different and something that people of Tassie can call their own.

“I really hope it can get off the ground, and it is fantastic there are people at the top who are really pushing it.

“I can understand the concept with it being called a Southern team, but the bigger thing with Tassie is that we need to concentrate on getting ourselves back in the league, regardless of where it is based or anything like that.

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