The GMHBA Ballarat Miners have an important doubleheader in front of them as two wins this weekend could go a long way in securing fourth place on the East Conference ladder, and, consequently, a spot in playoffs. They travel Friday night to Bendigo Stadium to take on the Bendigo Braves from 8pm, then turn around to host the Brisbane Spartans from 8pm at the MARS® MINERDOME.
The last meeting between the Miners and the Braves was an intense battle, where, although the Miners trailed for the majority of the match, they were never out of reach for the win. The experience of the Braves seemed to prevail, however, as they were able to hold on for an 81-73 win over the Miners.
Since that game the Miners have improved leaps and bounds, with player roles becoming more defined, and the chemistry amongst the players on the court growing with each game. Ken Horton continues to impress as the season goes on, averaging 20.8 points a game, and still leading the league in rebounding at 13.4. The Braves were able to hold Horton to only 13 points in their first meeting; however, with the absence of Roy Booker, Horton has really had to step up, and will be expected to have another big night if the Miners have any chance at a victory.
Other players who have had to step up in lieu of Booker’s injury are young locals Nathan Sobey and Anthony Fisher. Sobey and Fisher have expressively answered the call, averaging 16 and 15 points per game, respectively, and both shooting the ball remarkably well at over 50% from the field each game. The addition of Dyricus Edwards has also proven beneficial to the Miners. In two short weeks, Edwards has seemed to work his way into the Miners offence as a scoring threat, also averaging 15 points a game, while showing his tenacity on defence with his ability to force turnovers from his opponents. Captain Liam Gibcus remains an integral piece of the puzzle to the Miners success with his presence in the post, relentless efforts on the boards, and also his passionate style of leadership. With the bench being solid all year, and only seeming to improve as the season progresses, the Braves will have their work cut out for them when they host the Miners Friday night.
Conversely, the Braves have also improved since their Round 4 matchup against the Miners, with imports Dustin Salisbery and Zach Atkinson putting up consistent and impressive numbers each passing week. Salisbery, a strong forward, is averaging 21 points and 7 rebounds a game for the Braves, whereas centre Atkinson has proven that he can hold his own in the paint, averaging a double-double of 17 points and 10.4 rebounds a game. Bendigo has been successful in what is a very competitive South Conference, and are also vying for a playoffs spot, making this a very important game for them.
With both teams with a lot at stake in Friday’s matchup, it is expected to be a heated battle and should go down to the wire. Support your Miners and keep up with the action at www.seabl.com.au/livestats.
The Miners will then return home to host the Brisbane Spartans in another must-win situation. With the Spartans sitting just below the Miners on the ladder, there is added motivation for both teams. For the Miners, there is pressure to further separate themselves from the Spartans and hold on to their fourth place position; for the Spartans, the pressure to keep their postseason hopes alive and try and take hold of that fourth place position.
The first time the Miners took on the Spartans was in the second round of the competition, winning 96-70 in a matchup where Ballarat had the upper hand from the very beginning and never let up.
Led by Scott Kenny, CJ Massingale, and Brendan Teys—all averaging 14 points a game—the Spartans have had somewhat of an inconsistent season; showing the ability to have the focus and determination to beat strong outfits such as the Northwest Tasmania Thunder and the Hobart Chargers, but also showing a lack of discipline in their inability to get over the line against weaker teams such as the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence. They are also without star import Zach Henifin, who had to leave the team earlier in the season due to personal reasons. Henifin was able to rack up 30 points against the Miners in their first meeting, and his impact will be sorely missed, as the Miners were very successful in holding Kenny and Massingale well below their averages in Round 2.
As mentioned before, however, there is a lot at stake for the Spartans, so there is a large expectation for Kenny and Massingale to have huge games, as well as the anticipation that the rest of the players will step up as well in an effort to keep their season alive. With both teams coming into the second game of a doubleheader weekend, the outcome will largely depend on which team can fight off the fatigue from the night before. Similarly, if the Miners can employ the same stifling defensive tactics that helped them to victory in their first matchup against the Spartans, they should have no problem getting over the line and further solidifying their spot in the postseason.
Get in to the MARS® MINERDOME and cheer your Rush and Miners on to victory in what is a very important weekend for both clubs. Tip-off for the Miners begins at 8pm, following the Rush taking on the Lady Spartans from 6pm.