North-West Thunder prepare for a two-game road trip as the NBL1 season resumes

BRAD COLE   THE ADVOCATE   Ahead of a tough two-game road trip to Victoria this weekend, North-West Thunder coach Sam Armstrong hopes that a raft of big performances from his playing group at local level can transfer to the NBL1 stage.

Wednesday night’s round of NWBU games was awash with impressive numbers from Jordan Bowling (48 points), Paul Campbell (33 points and 20 rebounds), Tre Armstrong (34 points) and Nick Banyard (28 points and 13 rebounds).

Armstrong said it was pleasing to see his players perform well during the break in the NBL1 season.

“It’s always a positive for us when players go back to NWBU level and play really well,” he said.

“I hope that is a sign of what we are doing at our level.

“The guys have had an extended break now – it feels like ages since we played Hobart – so for them to have to have some recent good form away from our program should be beneficial for us.”

One player Armstong hopes will benefit most from the confidence boost is forward Jordan Bowling, who was fouled out after just six minutes in the win against Hobart.

“I don’t think we have seen the best of Jordan yet,” Armstrong said.

“He’s that guy who has the opportunity to play the small forward and power forward roles for us and he gets the opportunity to do that this weekend.”

Bowling and the rest of the Thunder big man department will have their hands full on the first game of the road trip when they face a Bendigo side that possess two quality interior players in Ray Turner and Matthew Andronicos.

“They have a high level point guard in Deonte Burton who is very athletic, but if we get bogged down trying to play half-court defence, we’re going to get hurt by Andronicos and Turner who are two of the best big men in the league,” Armstrong said.

“We’re going to have to defend the interior really well on Saturday night and while we need to be physical, foul trouble has been a real concern for us so far this season so we have to find the balance.”

Sunday afternoon’s game sees the Thunder travel back down to Melbourne to take on an unknown quantity in Waverley, who currently sit one spot ahead of them in fifth position on the ladder with a 3-1 record.

Armstrong admitted that he still needs to study up on the Falcons in the lead-up.

“They have a bit of a beast inside in Deondre McWhorter and Bennie Lewis is capable of putting up big numbers, but the rest are unknown,” Armstrong said.

“We’ll be doing a bit of homework on them over the next 48 hours, but as you do on road trips, you always focus heavily on the first game before turning your attention on Sunday.

“Waverley are 3-1 though, so we know we will have to play 80 minutes of good basketball over the weekend.”

The Thunder will be taking nine players on the road trip, but leaving assistant coach Nick Haywood at home.

“We’ll be able to have some good rotations and be able to play our brand of up-tempo basketball,” Armstrong said.

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