The GMHBA Ballarat Miners head into a tough doubleheader weekend without the services of star guard Roy Booker, who is still awaiting results of an injury sustained in last weekend’s blockbuster match-up against the Geelong Supercats. They travel to Nunawading Stadium to take on the Nunawading Spectres from 7:45pm, and then return home the following day where they welcome the Knox Raiders to the MARS® MINERDOME from 2pm.
The challenge of taking on the Nunawading Spectres could be difficult for the Ballarat Miners. In their last meeting, the Spectres were able to get over the line on the Miners by 20 points, and that was without impact player and NBL guard Mitch Creek, who has come into the Nunawading line-up to average 17 points (at a field goal percentage of 50%) and five rebounds. With Shane McDonald averaging 16 points and six assists a game, and centre Simon Conn averaging 23 points and 12 rebounds a game, Creek has been an addition that has only boosted the Spectres roster. The Spectres will also be coming into the game well-rested and self-assured, as a persuasive and seemingly effortless win against the Albury-Wodonga Bandits was their last contest.
Be that as it may, since losing to the Spectres, the Miners have seen an 8-game winning streak, with convincing wins against top teams, and have compelled teams around the league to regard them as a powerhouse within the league. Although they will be playing this weekend without Booker, all of the Miners are capable and ready to answer the call. With the absence of Booker, Anthony Fisher will be relied on to be even more of a court leader, and with playing some of his best basketball as a Miner, there is no doubt that he is ready to take on the challenge. Ken Horton is also likely to receive added pressure in lieu of Booker’s injury, but as a player that has been consistently marvellous all season, he should have no problem maintaining his same outstanding standard of play. The real question mark will be whether or not there will be a heightened productivity from that of starters Nathan Sobey and Liam Gibcus, who, although have been solid all season, may need to lift their game. A larger output from bench players Ash Constable, Sean Massey, and Chris Smith will also be what helps the Miners get over the line in vital games down the stretch, and more importantly, this weekend.
The Miners have the tough task of taking on the Spectres and then turning around to play at home against the Knox Raiders for the first time this season. While the Raiders have been struggling this season with inconsistent play from key starters, they have taken top teams such as the Mount Gambier Pioneers and the Nunawading Spectres down to the wire. Most consistent for the Raiders is the play of post player Delwan Graham, who is averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds a game; a sizeable presence in the paint . While it varies with each game as to which Knox player steps up to support Graham, his most consistent help comes from guard Adam Doyle, pitching in an average of 14 points a game.
While the Miners would be heavily -tipped against the Raiders, they will have a few obstacles to overcome; adjusting to playing without Booker, but also in overcoming the fatigue that comes with the quick turnaround in a doubleheader weekend. A boost for the Miners may come from newly-signed import Dyricus Edwards, an explosive American guard from Bradley University. Edwards is coming off a stint in Hungary where he averaged 22 points, four rebounds, and three assists a game. Edwards is set to arrive in Ballarat Thursday morning, and although it is unsure the impact he will make in his opening weekend with the Miners, it is clear that Edwards has the talent and ability to really help the Miners remain competitive within the league.
Come support your Miners and watch Edwards in his debut at the MARS® MINERDOME when the Miners will take on the Knox Raiders from 2pm, following the Integra Ballarat Rush taking on the Knox Lady Raiders from 12pm.