BENDIGO Braves men's coach Stephen Black is confident the absence of Kuany Kuany for the next two weeks won't halt the momentum of his side in the NBL1.
Despite sitting mid-table in 12th position, the Braves are one of the form teams of the men's competition having won their past four games by a combined 85 points.
What had one stage been an ugly looking 1-6 record is now almost back on an even keel, with the Braves men headed to Eltham on Saturday night now at 5-6 and right back in the playoff hunt.
But they will have to make do for their next two games against Eltham and Geelong (July 1) without guard Kuany due to commitments with the South Sudan national team.
"We're 5-1 since Kuany got here and he's obviously a very large piece for us, but with him missing the next two weeks through national team duties I do feel we're in a much better position to cover that load," Black said on Friday.
"The team as a whole has got a lot more comfortable with how we're trying to go about it and that was probably the most pleasing aspect about last weekend and the way we played in creating the style of game that we wanted it to be."
Following a break for the Queen's Birthday long weekend the Braves men returned to the court in style last week with a pair of homecourt victories over Frankston (89-73) and Dandenong (104-61).
In the absence of Kuany, who is averaging 19.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, Black said there were a number of players he could call on to step up and fill the void.
"I was really happy with the contributions Billy Smythe and Jack White made, particularly in the Frankston game last week," Black said.
"With Sidy (Djitte) in foul trouble those two really came in and played some important moments when the game was in the balance against a quality team.
"Also, Isaac Murphy showed at the start of the year he is certainly a very capable player and has done some great things in our system and was a bit of a rock for us earlier.
"The hope is we'll be able to share the load among a few of our players."
Eltham sits on the bottom of the ladder with a 1-9 record and is coming off an 86-83 defeat to Hobart last Sunday.
Saturday night's men's game starts at 8pm.
Meanwhile, the Braves women will be aiming to curtail the influence of Eltham star Anneli Maley in their women's clash from 6pm at the Eltham High School.
Maley needs no introduction to Bendigo basketball fans having just won the 2021-22 WNBL MVP Award with the Bendigo Spirit.
Having returned to Australia from America where she received a pre-season training camp invite from the Chicago Sky in the WNBA, Maley has played two games with the Hawks and is averaging 22 points and 23 rebounds.
The Braves women, who have a full list available this weekend, sit on top of the ladder as one of three teams, along with Ringwood and Mount Gambier, that have 9-2 records.
Included in those nine wins was a pair of thumping victories last weekend over Frankston (102-65) and Dandenong (99-73).
The Dandenong victory was highlighted by the most dominant game by a Braves' womens player this year as Megan McKay produced a statline that read 40 points, nine rebounds, three assists and one block.
"Last weekend was our most complete four quarter performances in both games in terms of the way we wanted to play," Braves women's coach Mark Alabakov said.
"We had a really good balance of being able to score in transition, score inside and outside, make good decisions and we defended at a finals level.
"The goal will be to bring that through to this weekend because Eltham (4-6) is going to be a tough proposition on the road.
"Eltham's position on the ladder (13th) is by no way indicative of the team they are; they've played the majority of the first half of the year without Anneli Maley and now she's back in the mix we'll have to play again at that finals level."
1. Mount Gambier (10-1)
2. Ballarat (8-4)
3. Geelong (7-3)
4. Hobart (7-3)
5. Waverley (7-3)
6. Knox (7-5)
7. Frankston (7-5)
8. Kilsyth (7-5)
9. Sandringham (7-5)
10. Ringwood (6-5)
11. NW Tasmania (5-5)
12. Bendigo (5-6)
13. Diamond Valley (5-6)
14. Nunawading (5-6)
15. Casey (3-8)
16. Dandenong (3-8)
17. Melbourne (2-8)
18. Keilor (2-9)
19. Eltham (1-9)
1. Bendigo (9-2)
2. Ringwood (9-2)
3. Mount Gambier (9-2)
4. Geelong (8-2)
5. Launceston (7-3)
6. Nunawading (7-4)
7. Knox (7-5)
8. Ballarat (7-5)
9. Waverley (6-4)
10. Casey (6-5)
11. Sandringham (6-6)
12. Kilsyth (5-7)
13. Eltham (4-6)
14. Keilor (4-7)
15. Frankston (4-8)
16. Dandenong (3-8)
17. Melbourne (2-8)
18. Diamond Valley (1-10)
19. Hobart (0-10)
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