Goulburn Bears Youth League coach Eddie Teague has expressed full faith in his side to bounce back from a disappointing first round result last weekend.
The Bears played the Orange Eagles in Orange on Saturday, April 10, and despite scrapping their way to a lead late in the match, ultimately lost 70-57.
However, Teague was not dispirited by his team's defeat, as he knows they are much younger than most of their opponents in this division.
"It's going to be a tough year where most of the team has up to two or three more years in this age group," Teague said.
"We're going to play teams that are two or three years older than the fellows we've got at the moment. Certainly last week gave me as a coach a good indication of where we are."
After a slow start to the game in the first half, the Bears eventually found their feet and began stringing good passages of play together.
They eventually overcame a significant deficit to claim a brief lead, but Teague said fatigue and inexperience caused Goulburn to stumble late in the match.
"We couldn't finish it off and the Orange team got over us," he said.
"They were a little bit disappointed, I don't think that was the best we could play. We were a lot better in stages."
The reason Teague remains hopeful is, counterintuitively, because the team "couldn't have played worse" at various stages of the game.
"When you coach young people, especially young men, I find as the season goes, you can improve out of sight," he said.
"I would be worried if we all played well and it was one of those games you couldn't play better, but at some stages we probably couldn't have played worse.
"I don't think any of them could say they played their best games, which is kind of encouraging because they've got a big scope for improvement."
The team will have its opportunity to rebound tonight, when they take on the Sutherland Sharks at the Goulburn Basketball Stadium.
The Sharks, Teague expects, will prove to be one of the best teams in the competition, so tonight's game should give the Bears a good indication as to what their true capabilities are.
"We're playing Sutherland and if they're not the best team in the competition, they're very close," he said.
"Coming into this weekend, we've got to play harder and smarter. When you play the top teams, it has to be done every possession of the game.
"The big thing we have in country areas, we pride ourselves on our team and playing as a team. When you play with a full team of locals, these boys have been playing together for eight or nine years, so that makes a difference. We can't fault the chemistry in the team, everyone knows what their roles are."
While the Bears look to find their feet in the competition, Teague knows at least one aspect of the game in which they will shine.
"It's all about the improvement each week and giving 100 per cent, and I've never faulted the boys in the team on that," he said.
The Goulburn Bears will play the Sutherland Sharks tonight, April 17, at the Goulburn Basketball Arena from 6pm.
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