THEY travel longer distances to play than any other team in the Riverina, but Wagga Heat forward Nathan Elmer says the hard slog is starting to pay off.
After floating around local basketball circles for a few years, the 26-year-old joined the Heat for last year's season, when the side went winless.
This year has been far more encouraging with a 3-7 record thus far. They have a chance to build on that, with Saturday's clash with Shoalhaven at Bolton Park one of six home games in their next seven matches.
"A lot of the guys last year were all new, and this time we've got that half year under our belt and we know what to expect," he said.
"We were all pretty ecstatic to get that first win under the belt (at Newcastle), we carried a lot of energy from that into the following game.
"To get a win on the road shows how much we have improved since last season. It's good for us to see the hard work pays off a bit."
Heat lost to Shoalhaven by 30 points in round four, but had a shorter rotation and have grown as a team since.
Coach Zac Maloney said the loss was a crucial juncture in their season.
"In a way it was a turning point for us. We struggled to get into our structure and had a few problems with negativity we put a lot of work into," he said.
"We've watched some film and turnovers was a big one and to get on the defensive rebounds a bit more as well.
"Both of those have been a downfall of those, so we have to hone in on those in the back end of the season.
"They (Shoalhaven) get out and run, and play pretty similar to how we want to play. But at any time someone can drop 20 points or have five or six in double figures."
Elmer said Maloney's positive approach after the loss at Shoalhaven had helped the squad stick to the process.
"He's real good with games like that where you start strong then frustration kicks in a bit, it's easy for that to happen," he said.
"But he gives the boys a pep talk, to keep their chin up and it's not the end of the world.
"With games like that you learn from it, push past it and hopefully do better next game which we want to do this weekend.
"We go into games trying to get a win, but it's not our main focus. We just aim to have the effort needed to win, and we want to be proud of how we play and not give up."
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