NEWCASTLE Hunters coach Darren Nichols had no trouble motivating his players for their Waratah Basketball League game against derby rivals Maitland at Broadmeadow last Saturday.
The Hunters saluted 67-60 in front of a near capacity crowd of 1621 – the biggest in WBL history – and won the Kibble-Mallon Cup for the first time.
Though the attendance figure is unlikely to reach triple figures, and the stakes will not be as high, Nichols wants the WBL leaders to carry the same attitude into their game against the struggling Sutherland Sharks at Sutherland tonight.
The Hunters (12-2) are just one win ahead of second-placed Norths (11-3), and if they play to their potential they should be too strong for the 10th-placed Sharks (3-11).
But Nichols said Sutherland’s record did not reflect their recent form.
‘‘The key for us is having the right attitude, doing our job, executing well, and not taking them for granted, because if we do that, we’re going to make it a tough night for ourselves,’’ he said.
In-form guard Adam Stanger, Newcastle’s defensive stopper, will miss the game due to family commitments, and forward Mat Cook will be on State League duty.
Norths host eighth-placed Bankstown (6-7) tonight then challenge the Mustangs at Maitland Federation Centre at 3pm tomorrow.
After three losses from their past four games, Maitland have to win to stay in third spot ahead of a pack of chasers including Manly (8-6), Sydney (8-6) and defending champions Illawarra.
Newcastle’s women’s team return after a bye to face the Sharks at Sutherland tonight.
The fifth-placed Hunters (5-5) will miss senior players Cheryl Wills, Ilanah Forrest and Kelsey Moss against the fourth-placed Sharks (6-3), who have won their past five games.