BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE Finals may be out of reach, but the North-West Thunder can still make an impact on who will and who won’t continue on to next week’s NBL1 post-season when they host Waverley on Saturday night.
The Falcons arrive in Tasmania for their two-game road trip in eighth position on the ladder and can’t afford to lose to both the Thunder and 10th-placed Hobart the night before.
Even if they do win against the Huskies, Waverley may still need a victory over the Thunder depending on other results, however they will have to do it against a team with nothing to lose and a winning record against them this season.
The two sides met way back in round four, with the Thunder pulling out a remarkable 121-116 win in overtime on a Sunday afternoon thanks to 36 points from Lachlan Dent while also having the added pressure of Nick Banyard, Jordan Bowling and Paul Campbell all fouling out.
Thunder coach Sam Armstrong hopes to use a similar template this time around to help his team finish a disappointing season on a high.
“Waverley are a very even group who are big at every position and have been in good form of late, but when we played them last time our pace up and down the floor and our guard line exploited them in a couple of areas,” Armstrong said
“We defended them well inside as well and it was probably one of our most complete performances.
“We’ve referred to that game often throughout the season so if we can play anywhere near like we did in that game we give ourselves a chance on Saturday night.
“After last weekend’s round we spoke about owing it to ourselves, everyone involved at the club and the fans to finish off the season in the best possible style.”
To end on a winning note, the Thunder will need to cut down on a turnover count that has averaged 16.5 per game over the last four outings.
Armstrong said his team hasn’t been able to handle the lift in intensity from opposition teams when they try to protect a lead.
“When we start playing a really good brand of basketball and get ourselves a lead, the opposition turn up the pressure on us and we’ve crumbled a bit,” he said.
“We haven’t been able to fight through that pressure and that has hurt us over the course of games.
“Waverley are going to come in playing a finals brand of basketball that we have to show some resistance to.”
Jordan Bowling is the only injury concern for the Thunder, with Armstrong admitting the import carried a groin injury through last weekend.
“He didn’t train Monday night as a precaution after pulling up sore, but I expect him to be available,” Armstrong said.
Saturday night’s game gets underway at 7.30pm and is designated as a ‘Black Out’ night, with everyone attending that makes a gold coin donation to Ronald McDonald House receiving a black t-shirt to wear.