ANTHONY Fisher will take on Ballarat Miners’ starting point guard role this season.
It is a role the now 20-year-old has stepped into on-and-off for the Miners in the South East Australian Basketball League.
SEABL action opens tonight with the Miners travelling to the Icehouse in Mount Gambier to meet the Pioneers.
The Miners must restructure after the departure of captain Shaun Bruce, who remains finishing the National Basketball League season with Cairns Taipans and will remain in northern Queensland closer to the Taipans in the off-season.
Fisher has the credentials to fill Bruce’s role.
He spent his off-season focused on improving his strength after initially missing a
development player spot with NBL club Perth Wildcats.
Fisher returned to the Wildcats for a short training stint in January, and was rewarded with court-time in a Wildcats’ home game against New Zealand Breakers.
In a hectic schedule with the Australian Emus last year, Fisher had duties for the FIBA world under-19 championships, where the Emus claimed silver, a tour of China and training camps.
He also won gold with the Victorian under-20 team at the Australian Junior Championships.
Fisher will have the backing of American import Roy Booker, who boasts a wealth of international experience.
Ballarat Basketball elite teams operations manager Jimmy Hunt said Booker would take a lot of pressure off Fisher on the court and was a strong, proven playmaker in his own right.
“We’ve done something different this year with our imports, normally we try and get big guys but this year we’ve gone for a guard as an import and Roy is very, very credentialed,” Hunt said.
“But Ken (American import Ken Horton) will be great too – he’s listed as six-foot-seven (inches) but is really more like six-foot-eight and has a massive wing span.
“Everywhere he’s played he has been that team’s leading scorer.”
The American duo complement and bolster the Miners’ existing roster.
Centre Chris Smith has hit the gym hard with Miners’ strength and conditioning coach Scott Talpey, and the results are starting to show in impressive practice match performances.
Smith will have support in the height department from Miners’ 208-centimetre recruit Liam Gibcus, who joined the Minerdome from four years of playing American college baskeball in Alaska.
Guard Ash Constable looks set to continue his push for more court-time in the point guard role, a move he started to make last season with young gun Sean Massey.
Kris Blicavs, returning for a second season with the Miners, remains in doubt for tonight’s season opener in Mount Gambier due to a niggling back injury.
The hard-working Miner has been limited in training and will continue to be monitored.
Ballarat Miners are confident of making a big impact in their campaign opener against a Pioneers’ outfit that will miss its three NBL players – Erik Burdon (Perth Wildcats), Brad Hill and Ben Allen (Sydney Kings) – still on national league duty.
Ballarat Rush launches its SEABL women’s season next week in a road trip with the Miners to Brisbane.
BALLARAT MINERS 2014 FIXTURE
Friday, March 21:
v Mt Gambier (a)
Saturday March 29:
v Brisbane (a)
Saturday, April 5:
v Nunawading (h)
Wednesday, April 9:
v Bendigo (h)
Saturday, April 26:
v Frankston (h)
Saturday, May 3:
v Albury-Wodonga (h)
Friday, May 9:
v Hobart (a)
Saturday, May 10:
v NW Tasmania (a)
Saturday, May 17:
v Mt Gambier (h)
Sunday, May 18:
v Dandenong (a)
Saturday, May 24:
v Canberra (a)
Sunday, May 25:
v Basketball Australia CoE (a)
Saturday, May 31:
v Albury-Wodonga (a)
Sunday, June 15:
v Sandringham (h)
Saturday, June 21:
v Geelong (h)
Saturday, June 28:
v Nunawading (a)
Sunday, June 29:
v Knox (h)
Saturday, July 5:
v Dandenong (h)
Friday, July 11:
v Bendigo (a)
Saturday, July 12:
v Brisbane (h)
Sunday, July 20:
v NW Tasmania (h)
Saturday, July 26: v Sandringham (a)
Saturday, August 2:
v Knox (a)
Sunday, August 3:
v Kilsyth (h)
Saturday, August 9: v Canberra (h)
Saturday, August 16: v Geelong (a)