BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE It’s only five games into the 2019 NBL1 season, but already the North-West Thunder have clocked up the kilometres as they look to make an impression in the new league.
After starting with a home game, the Thunder have travelled to Launceston, Hobart, Bendigo and Waverley since, and will be reacquainting themselves with the airport lounge again this weekend with another two-game road trip to Frankston and Eltham.
“It’s been one of the toughest starts to a season I can ever remember,” coach Sam Armstrong said.
“It feels like an eternity since we have had a home game, but you can see the chemistry starting to build between the guys, so there has been some upside to it.
“Any win you get on the road is a good win, and while last week wasn’t a bad result, each road trip presents a different challenge and this one will be no different.”
The Thunder will start on Saturday night against a familiar adversary in Frankston, who have the services of former Coastal sharpshooter Lachie Barker.
Armstrong said the Blues pose a sizable challenge to his team.
“On paper I think they have one of the best teams in the league, and while they haven’t found their way just yet with a 2-4 record, they aren’t far away,” he said.
“They have a lot of powerful weapons on offence and it’s probably going to be our hardest challenge to date on the defensive end.
“We all know what Lachie can do and he will be one of the barometers for them offensively, but we’ve got a couple of guards ourselves that Frankston have to take care of.”
Sunday’s trip to Eltham sees the Thunder take on an unfamiliar rival, but Armstrong knows the Wildcats can’t be taken lightly despite a 1-4 record.
“They’ve been able to score most weeks but just can’t stop teams on the defensive end,” Armstrong said.
“But they’ve been very competitive in most games and they are going to be a challenge.
“We go away this weekend with a strong focus on our defence and trying to stay out of foul trouble – it’s our achilles heal at the moment.”