Road trip critical for Thunder finals hopes

JARRYD MCGUANE   THE ADVOCATE   The North West Tall Timbers Thunder face their toughest test of their season with a road trip double-header against Bendigo Braves and the Melbourne Tigers in SEABL round 13 action this weekend.

Both games will have crucial implications on the SEABL finals.

Two wins could move the Thunder as high as third on the ladder and fairly safe in the race for finals.

But two losses would see the team drop out of the top eight with two rounds remaining.

Thunder coach Sam Armstrong said the matches were huge in the context of their season.

“It is a huge weekend for us, with the Melbourne game, we had a pretty tight tussle with them the other week without one of their NBL players in,” Armstrong said.

“That is after going to play Bendigo at their place on Saturday night, which is one of the tougher venues to win and they sit in sixth position.

“In the context of our season, this is the most important road trip we have had to date.”

Armstrong said road trips are always difficult to gain wins and believed the team was ready to approach the Braves and the Tigers with the expectations they would win both games.

“On road trips, games are always difficult to win and if you go in with the mentality that you can split a road trip, you will have done fine.

“You always go in with the mindset that you can win both games and that doesn’t change for us.

“We go in there this weekend and we get ourselves prepared to go away and hopefully come back with two wins under our belt.”

Saturday night at Bendigo Stadium will be the first game the Thunder have met the Braves this season.

Despite not facing the opposition so far this season, Armstrong was wary of the talented Braves roster.

“The Braves have constructed a very talented roster and they have Jeremy Kendle back in the side this year, who is a former league MVP.

“They also have a highly quality imports and Bendigo’s strength has also been the local players they have had around their imports.

“They are not sitting sixth on the ladder for no reason, they are a quality outfit.”

Armstrong believed the Tigers would also be stronger than their first meeting, where the Thunder claimed a 94-92 win.

“With Dexter (Kernich-Drew) coming back in, he missed our Ulverstone game, it strengthens their guard lineup a little bit more.

“We know a little bit about these guys, but we are expecting a tough to beat on their home floor where they have won the majority of their games.”

Saturday night’s game in Bendigo starts at 8pm and Sunday’s game at Oakleigh Recreation Centre starts at 3pm.

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