THE Bendigo Braves have made a winning start in the new-look NBL1 competition, with both the men's and women's teams recording season-opening road wins over the Melbourne Tigers on Sunday.
The Braves' women - champions last year in the final season of the SEABL - picked up from where they left off, defeating the Tigers 78-65 at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
"We're really happy to get our first win on the board... you never know where everyone is at going into round one," Braves coach Megan Moody said.
"I thought we played quite well for three quarters of the game, but lost a bit of focus towards the end and didn't keep the pressure on as much as we would have liked, but we'll take a win first-up."
The victory featured standout performances from the Braves' star trio in captain Kelly Wilson, Gabe Richards and Tessa Lavey.
Wilson wasn't far off logging a season-opening triple double, finishing with 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
Wilson wasted no time making her presence felt, scoring nine points in the opening quarter.
Richards dominated on the boards, hauling down 20 rebounds (including nine offensive) to go with 12 points.
And gun recruit Lavey nailed five three-pointers among her tally of 21 points.
"Tessa hit three three-pointers to start the third quarter, which was really impressive and it was a great first-up game for her," Moody said.
"Kelly's leadership was phenomenal; she and Tessa were really in sync and Gabe was huge for us. She is refreshed after a break over summer and had a great battle with Melbourne's Louella Tomlinson."
While the final margin was 13 points, the Braves' lead had been more than double that when they skipped 28 points clear during the third quarter.
Meanwhile, David Hogan's tenure as coach of the Braves' men began with a hard-fought 73-69 victory over the Tigers.
The Braves led at every change, but had to work hard to the final buzzer after what had one stage been a 15-point Bendigo lead was whittled back to just a two-possession game late.
Ray Turner began his season with a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds, while fellow big man Matt Andronicos (16) and Daniel Hansen (14) also scored in double figures for the Braves, who will want to sharpen up at the free-throw line after making just eight-of-17.
Both the Braves men and women, who will unfurl their 2018 championship banner, will play their first home games of the season at the Bendigo Stadium this Friday night against the BA Centre of Excellence.
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