North-West Thunder coach Sam Armstrong speaks ahead of Friday night’s NBL1 clash against Melbourne

The Thunder head up to Launceston on Friday night for the second of their NBL1 double-headers with the Tornadoes, this time taking on Melbourne at the Elphin Sports Centre.

After a poor showing against Knox last week, Armstrong has been pleased with the response at training this week as the team tries to arrest a form slump that has seen them lose five of their last six games and drop to 15th on the ladder.

“We got together on Monday night before practice and just spoke about the Knox game and how we were not at the standard we needed to be,” Armstrong said.

“We made a bit of a pact within the group that we would do our best to leave no stone unturned to get some good results for the final five games of the year.

“We’re not going to change our structure a whole lot but just tweak a few things at both ends of the floor.

“It’s nothing too much outside the square, just stuff that we had done really well at the start of the year but had slightly gone away from.”

One issue Armstrong hopes to sort out for the game with the Tigers is the lack of aggression at the basket by both his guards and forwards.

The Thunder only took eight free throws in total against the Raiders, and to make matters worse, only connected on two of them.

“We spoke about getting ourselves to the free throw line a bit more and that’s a combination of our guards looking to penetrate more and looking to get the ball into our big guys and them being aggressive as well,” Armstrong said.

“We’re not scoring enough points in the paint at the moment, we’re probably too loaded up at the three-point line, and we need to find a better balance.”

The Thunder regain Australian under 17 representative Reyne Smith for the encounter with Melbourne, who sit in fifth position with a 9-5 record, but will still be missing captain Joe Chilcott.

Armstrong said the Tigers pose a challenging task.

“They have some pretty talented athletes who are blue-collar guys and get the job done,” he said.

“We have to match their athleticism and intensity, and if we do that at both ends of the floor then we’re a chance.”

Tip-off at Elphin is at 8pm, with the Tornadoes getting underway at 6pm.