In sport you often hear people talk about controlling the controllables. It applies to all sport, but in the game of basketball it's absolutely essential because there is so much that can happen out there on the floor that's completely out of your control.
You see guys make impossible shots, other times even the best shooters can't seem to buy one. Sometimes they drop, sometimes they don't. They're the types of swings and roundabouts you can endure at the offensive end of the floor.
You hear a lot about shooters' luck, but people don't talk a lot about luck at the defensive end. That's because it comes down to effort. It's one of the few things you have complete control over every time you step onto the floor.
Goorj is really big on those areas, getting stops, getting rebounds and not fouling and it was what we spoke about most after out loss to Cairns on Saturday.
In this type of NBL Cup tournament there's not a lot of time to get out on the floor and work hard between games. You're mostly resting up and recovering for the next one, so the biggest adjustments you can make are in your mindset.
There's no doubt the loss to Cairns was disappointing for us. It felt a lot like our previous two games against them where we won quite convincingly and that was probably the trap we fell into. This time we didn't have the execution and let them hang around.
Then in the fourth quarter they absolutely shot the lights out. It was a good lesson for us that we need to bury teams when we can not just let them hang around. They were always going to be desperate on a number of fronts. We'd beaten them badly a couple of times up there and they were really in need of wins.
It was definitely one we let slip through our fingers and there was a lot of talk about our defensive efforts. You can't always control what happens on the offensive end and how we shoot, but you can alway control your effort on the defensive end.
We had a long video session after the Taipans game looking at all the defensive breakdowns, but Goorj also drove home that we needed to forget about it and move on. We just tried to make sure when we came out against the Breakers that we were locked in defensively.
Playing in this type of hub is a unique experience. You're playing games back to back without any travel at all. You don't have to worry about flights, buses, packing and all those things, but it can be a strange atmosphere when you're the first game of these double-headers.
It's something you've got to expect. Obviously fans aren't going to be flocking into an Illawarra-New Zealand game the same way as they would for a Melbourne United or South East Melbourne game.
We spoke about that, there wasn't going to be a lot of atmosphere so we needed to generate our own energy from the jump. We did that but it was really pleasing the way we kept our foot on their throat.
With the loss to Cairns being still so fresh, there was definitely that feel in the game of 'let's keep going, no let up'. We're at our best when we're able to get out and run and it was the stops we got defensively that let us tie some scores together and really blow that lead out.
It was a good turnaround but, just like you can't dwell on a loss, you can't sit and admire your work after a win. We've got Brisbane on Friday and they're going to be desperate like Cairns and we're going to get their best shot.
We spoke about that after our loss to South East Melbourne a few weeks ago. We're not an unknown quantity anymore, we're up near the top of the ladder, and teams are going to be coming for us.
Following that, we've got South East Melbourne on Sunday and the tables are probably turned on that one. We were a bit embarrassed by that game, we got beat badly and didn't play good basketball. Of all our games this season, that's the one where we really let ourselves down.
They didn't get the best version of us so we want to right that and, given we're down here in Melbourne, it'll be good to play in front a big rowdy crowd. Even if they are cheering for the other team, it beats playing in an empty arena.