MINERS fans know they have a lot to be excited about this season – and this was epitomised in the stunning debut of their captain Matt Hanson.
He could nail the big shots – five from six three-pointers – he could rebound strong, he could spark up his troops.
And he set the Minerdome alight in a thrilling duel with key Mt Gambier man Titus Robinson.
Ballarat Miners though, fell three-points short of the Pioneers in the opening South East Australian Basketball League round on Saturday night.
Hanson chalked up 30 points – including an 11-point second quarter – and 11 rebounds while young guard Anthony Fisher (20 points, four assists) and recruit Kris Blicavs (17 points, five rebounds, four assists) made an impact.
General consensus among Miner fans was a great game from the young, new-look team, with missed crucial chances in the dying moments.
Ballarat Subaru Miners coach David Flint heard praise along the same lines.
But his had toughed out a tight first quarter to pull 11 points clear by half-time and were looking strong at three-quarter time.
The Pioneers rallied and took the lead with seven minutes left in the final term and Flint said his Miners just could not seem to get back in front.
“Our effort was great. As a coach, I am rapt with how well the guys played but I am disappointed with the scoreline,”Flint said.
“The bottom line is we went into the game trying to find a way to win.
“People tend to concentrate on the end but we were in control for most of the first half.”
A missed free throw in a potential three-point play to level scores, then a missed three-point shot before the buzzer to again, try and level the game, had the Miners tantalisingly close to sealing their first win.
The Miners are still to welcome back co-captain Shaun Bruce and recruit Lucas Walker from National Basketball League duties but Flint said early wins were pivotal to ensure they were not forced to play catch up.
They must do this with the players they have got on the floor.
Fisher added plenty of bite from the outset and nailed big points deep in a tense final term.
Newly arrived American import Keena Young (he flew in on Thursday) was solid with 10 points from five out of 14 field goal shots and should fire soon.
Flint is already proactive, travelling to Frankston yesterday to scout a strong-starting Blues’ form first-hand and said his team would have a great week on the floor before making the road-trip.
Then the tough season start continues against his old team – and the Miners’ arch rival – Bendigo at the Minerdome in round three.
Ballarat Rush will launch its SEABL campaign on the road in Frankston on Saturday.