The GMHBA Ballarat Miners have their work cut out for them this weekend as they take on two of the top teams in the league, the Mount Gambier Pioneers and the Dandenong Rangers.

The first test of the weekend’s doubleheader is at the MARS® MINERDOME on Saturday night in the SEABL Game of the Week against Mount Gambier. The Pioneers have started the season on fire, winning ten straight to be the league’s only undefeated team left. With offensive weapons from nearly every position, the Pioneers will be sure to test the Miners’ defensive prowess, and also put some pressure on them to properly execute on offense.

Two players that will prove troublesome for the Miners are Tom Daly and Brad Hill, who are both averaging 19.8 points a game. Daly is shooting the ball at an impressive 51% (45% from behind the arc), and Hill is just as impressive, shooting it at 45% (40% from the three). Hill is coming off of an outstanding performance last week against Nunawading, where he produced 28 points and brought in nine rebounds which resulted in a victory for the Pioneers. Daly chipped in with 23 points at 50% shooting in the close match. The ability of the Miners to limit Hill and Daly to below their season averages will directly play into whether or not they have a chance at victory Saturday night against the Pioneers. Similarly, because Mount Gambier has the depth that makes them dangerous from every position, an effective defensive strategy will need to be employed by the Miners.

Sunday afternoon the men will travel to take on the Dandenong Rangers, last year’s champions, who are also having a remarkable start to their season. With three of their players averaging 20+ points each game, it will be another night with a focus on defence for the Miners. Dandenong’s Daequon Montreal, who was MVP in last year’s Grand Final, is having a sensational season, averaging 27 points a game at an impressive 52% from the field, while also bringing in 6.3 rebounds each game. He is supported by Tony Lewis, averaging a double-double of 23 points, 11 rebounds per game, and is a dominant inside presence for Mount Gambier. Montreal and Lewis are both coming into this weekend’s game after a sound win against the Frankston Blues, where Montreal put in for 26 points and nine rebounds and Lewis scored 21 points and grabbed eight boards.

Although it will be a demanding weekend for the Miners, recent weeks have shown that the men are more than prepared for the challenge. Roy Booker and Ken Horton seem to be playing their best basketball for the Miners, and Anthony Fisher has been improving more and more each week. Horton averaged 17 points and 13 rebounds after a successful doubleheader weekend in Tasmania. Fisher was able to step up hugely for the Miners, averaging 23 points and five rebounds on the weekend. Lastly, Booker was rewarded for his amazing play in Tasmania with his second SEABL Player of the Week honour, and will be going into this weekend confident not only in his abilities, but the abilities of his teammates as well. With the Miners looking to finally be clicking on all cylinders, this weekend’s games could be theirs for the taking.

Also for the Miners will be the debut of new player Nathan Sobey, who has returned to Ballarat after playing at the University of Wyoming in the United States. As a quick and athletic guard for the Cowboys, Sobey averaged 10 points, 3.4 rebounds, and two assists in 30 minutes of play. His joining of the Miners roster will only prove beneficial as it will force some defensive pressure away from the Horton-Booker duo.

With the Miners playing some exciting basketball, it is a weekend of games that are sure not to disappoint. The Miners are at the MARS® MINERDOME Saturday night from 8pm following the Rush against Frankston at 6pm, and then will travel to take on the Rangers Sunday afternoon from 2pm.