WAGGA Heat will be without point guard Chaz Bishop for this weekend's double header road trip after he went down with an ankle injury early in Saturday's 91-74 loss to Canberra Gunners Academy at Bolton Park.
Looking to bounce back from a tough overtime road loss at Springwood in round one, the Heat began strongly to take a 27-13 lead at quarter time.
However the visitors began the second quarter with a 17-3 run, and built a 41-35 lead at half-time.
They extended their advantage to 65-51 after three quarters and held firm in the final term, with Cameron Pender (24) and Lachlan Smith (19) leading the way.
For the Heat player-coach Zac Maloney found some shooting form with 23 points, while Jake Edwards continued a strong start to the season with 19.
The Heat didn't win a game last year but have been far more competitive in their first two outings this campaign.
"Our goal is to get better each week and I look back at that game and feel like we played better than we did against Springwood," Maloney said.
"It is a tick in my book, and it was just a few little mistakes we made you come to expect from a young team that we can work on.
"In the second quarter we let ourselves down a little bit with just little mistakes. There's a few teething issues there, but we never gave up on it and kept fighting undermanned with a couple of boys already out.
"Jake Edwards had another good game putting his body on the line and attacking the hoop. As a whole the effort was there, we took a lot of charges which we did in round one as well.
"That's a sign of the boys wanting to play for each other."
Heat moved Cam McPherson to point guard when Bishop left the court, and Maloney expects to solider on without him for road matches this weekend against Newcastle (Saturday) and Central Coast (Sunday).
"We threw Cam in at point guard and it was a very physical and up tempo game, a lot of running so anyone who got the ball off the rebound was pushing the ball," Maloney said.
When we do that we're at our best, but Canberra do a good job of putting full court pressure on.
"Chaz will most likely be out this weekend. It's probably a good decision for us to rest him anyway, given we go into the Easter break next week."
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