Miners relive historic 1989 VBA championship victory over Melbourne Tigers

Former Ballarat Miner Craig Gilbert remembers the club's glory days at the anniversary for the 1989 Victorian Basketball Association championship win over the Melbourne Tigers.

Former Ballarat Miner Craig Gilbert remembers the club's glory days at the anniversary for the 1989 Victorian Basketball Association championship win over the Melbourne Tigers.

BALLARAT Miners past and present have congregated to celebrate the greatest win in the club's history.

Saturday night saw the Miners hold the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Victorian Basketball Association championship victory over the rampant Melbourne Tigers featuring Australian legend Andrew Gaze.

Among those who attended the celebrations at the MARS Minerdome for a full replay of the VBA final was former Miner Craig Gilbert.

Gilbert took great pleasure in reliving the victory, of which he was a part of, that has forever rocked Australian basketball.

During an exclusive interview with The Courier, the 45-year-old spoke fondly of the Miners' golden era and the brutal training regimes that made it such a successful outfit in its formative years.

"It's always good to come back, there's a lot of great memories, a lot of great friends so it's always a pleasure," Gilbert said.

"One thing I remember about playing here was that our intensity at training was like we were playing a match, it was just as tough going to training as it was playing games.

"Because we worked so hard we won, and coming to Ballarat where we had all this crowd support wasn't something I was used to."

Gilbert joined the Miners as a 19-year-old in 1988 when his parents bought the Southern Cross Hotel (now La Porchetta) on Sturt Street.

He played more than 250 club games.

"I came (to the Miners) in 88, played a year of NBL in 1991, came back in 92 and left in 94," he said.

Gilbert was present for many years of the Miners' golden dynasty spanning from 1987-1996.

The 10-year period yielded the club a host of conference championships, coach of the year awards, SEABL titles as well as two Country Basketball Association national championships.

While he didn't have a huge impact in that fateful night back in 1989, Gilbert has his place among many of Ballarat's statistical records, sitting inside the top 10 for the all-time club leaders in the two points made, steals and blocks categories.

Gilbert says he still pays attention to the club's current performances.

"I do follow them from afar, obviously I'm always a Miner," he said.

"I see that they're doing well and the town deserves a good team because they just love basketball here."

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