Chris Skilton is enjoying a comeback year to remember for the Thunderbolts with the Tamworth outfit on the cusp of a grand final berth in State League Division 1.
After Skilton was part of a grand final-making side, he took four years off before returning in 2017.
The basketballer picked a good year for it, too, with the Thunderbolts taking on Canberra on Saturday in Maitland for a spot in the grand final the next day.
A large majority of the players are all averaging about 10 points a game and there's a good spread across the team. Everyone can come on to the court and contribute.
When comparing this year’s side to the 2012 side that went down to Coffs Harbour 91-61 in the final, Skilton believed this year’s side was more well-rounded.
“We relied too much on myself [in 2012] and this team is genuinely a better team,” Skilton said.
“A large majority of the players are all averaging about 10 points and there’s a good spread across the team, everyone can come on to the court and contribute.
“I’m only playing 20 minutes a game and it’s fantastic for my body, which is good. It’s helping me make it through the season.”
Despite the fewer minutes, Skilton has still managed 205 points at an average of 13.67 per game, putting him behind only Kyle Gupton, who averages 22.68 with 431 points, in terms of point-scoring for the Thunderbolts.
The large range of contributors combined with strong recent form and experience in the finals has the Thunderbolts as ready as they’ll ever be.
“I think we’re quietly confident but we know we have our work cut out for us,” Skilton said.
“Having a good game last weekend against Sutherland has put us in good stead.
“It was a hard fought game and everyone contributed.
“This weekend is about who wants it more and who puts in the effort.
‘The team made it to the final four last year and lost on the Saturday, they know what to expect.
“No one’s going to shy away from the challenge and I think we’ll be giving it a red hot crack on Saturday.”
If Tamworth wins, the side will take on the winner of Bankstown and St George on Sunday.