By Kasey Cornwell
The GMHBA Ballarat Miners storm into playoffs contention, defeating Nunawading Spectres, 92 – 76.
Gregory Thondique was impressive on 20 points, 15 rebounds and Anthony Fisher took control of the game on 20 points 11 boards. Game MVP and Co-captain Roy Booker despite gaining his fourth foul mid way through the third, still managed to star on 23 points and 8 assists.
The game opened with a spark, Co-captain Kris Blicavs showed spirit and intensity, opening the scoring after a ferocious start. The Nunawading Spectres matched the Miners well early on and it was shot for shot basketball.
Late in the first the Miners lifted the intensity and went on a 9 point to nothing run, with Roy Booker ending the period emphatically with an amazing long range fade away 3 point basket. The home crowd advantage was evident, the Miners ending the first period up, 28 – 17.
The intensity continued into the second quarter, and the Miners played clean basketball, with 0 fouls and taking Nunawading to 5 fouls halfway through the quarter. Anthony Fisher enjoyed the long range 2 in this quarter nailing this at every opportunity and taking his half time score to 12. The passing under the basket and through the key was impressive during the first half. The Miners took a 14 point lead into the main break, 51 – 37.
Into the third quarter, Liam Gibcus and Greg Thondique were dominant, taking strong rebounds and creating a presence under the basket. The Miners lost focus a bit late in the third, with 2 baskets from 9 after a time out was taken midway through the quarter. While Nunawading were able to cut the Miners lead to 1 closing in on the end of the third period.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Miners shots were not dropping, and the Nunawading Spectres took the lead 2 minutes into the term. The team stood up at this point, and their ability to work well together came to the fore. Anthony Fisher was incredible defensively and offensively, and Dyson King-Hawea was a constant within the offenses, contributing regularly when the game was on the line. The Miners shots began to fall and defensive rebounds increased, and midway through the term the home side pushed the lead out to 10 points. Late in the period the team combined well offensively to further their lead to 16 points and rewarded the excited home crowd with a Thondique dunk, diving for loose balls and some impressive fast breaks. The Miners finished with a 16 point win for their last home game.
Head Coach Eric Hayes thought the team was just incredible, and the game just the same. He was complimentary to his side, and knew that for the last three weeks have come out to battle and Saturday night’s game was no different. He and the side have worked hard to get into this position, and his squad savoured the moment and got it done to remain in playoffs contention.
The team’s confidence within each other has been remarkable, Hayes noted the their ability to run their offenses, share the ball around and take great shots, he claimed his players have a nice marriage, just ticking along nicely.
Defensively the Miners played smart, they knew each Nunawading player’s strengths and weaknesses, and made it difficult for the Spectres to do what they normally do well.
The third quarter, Hayes and his side let the Spectres get on a run, and early in the fourth let them take the lead briefly. Nunawading are a quality side with a talented playing list, and the Miners lost continuity a bit, noted Hayes. But it was noted that it is those quality sides, that can let this point of the game fracture their game style, and lose the win and to the Miners credit they got back to their game style and increased their intensity and took back the lead.
Entering the last round of the SEABL season, playoffs are now in the Miners hands. A win next week, and we’re in playoffs.
Eric Hayes said that despite playoffs being on the line, this will not change the way the side have approached the last week few weeks, especially considering their impressive past games. The Ballarat Miners will hit the Kilsyth court next Saturday 15 August 2015, with a battle in mind and a will to make playoffs.