BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE well-drilled Nunawading outfit showed there is still plenty of room in the modern game for size and experience after they dealt the North-West Thunder its first loss of the NBL1 season with a 92-79 victory in Launceston on Saturday night.
After an even start, the Spectres slowly started to take control of the contest, outscoring the Thunder by ten points in the second quarter.
The Thunder drew to within six points in the early stages of the third quarter, but the visitors drew away again, this time extending their lead to 13 points heading into the final term.
Nunawading ensured there would be no further comebacks by the hosts in the final ten minutes, keeping the margin above 13 points for the majority of proceedings.
Thunder assistant coach Nick Haywood conceded his team were simply outmuscled and outclassed by a superior opponent.
“They are just a quality team who take great shots within their structure – there’s nothing loose about how they play,” Hayward said.
“They were super aggressive on Saturday night as well – they were probably too big and too strong for us in the end.”
Highlighting the gap in experience was the defensive pressure Nunawading put on young Thunder shooting guard Tre Armstong, who scored 32 points last week, but could only manage three points on Saturday night on just two shot attempts.
“The Spectres scouted us really well, especially Tre, and he just was unable to get a good shot for most of the night,” Haywood said.
“We just have to get through our offence better and set good screens for him, but he has to also find other ways to contribute, which we probably didn’t see.”
“But again he’s only 19, just like Lachlan Dent, and we expect a lot out of our backcourt group at such a young age.”
Nick Banyard led the scoring for the Thunder with 18 points, followed by Dent with 15 points and Jordan Bowling with 13 points, but the team’s overall shooting percentage was only 37 per cent on 79 attempts, while a far more efficient Nunawading connected on 33 shots from 62 attempts to go with twice as many attempts from the free throw line.
Dain Swetella top-scored for the visitors with a game-high 23 points, while veteran centre Simon Conn helped himself to 22 points and 17 rebounds.
Haywood said despite the result, the team could take plenty of positives out of the match ahead of the local derby against the Hobart Huskies at Kingborough.
“I think we proved that we could compete with the good teams for periods,” he said.
“We just couldn’t really combine consecutive scores or get consecutive stops to bridge the gap Nunawading established.”