Ballarat Miners are not underestimating the power of home court advantage, after finishing their South East Australian Basketball League season on top in south conference.
When the team heads into battle with the second-place Hobart Chargers on Saturday night, it will be inside a fully packed and vocal Minerdome with a healthy 11-1 home record.
Ballarat GMHBA Miners’ rookie player Ross Weightman said finishing first had been “super exciting” for everyone involved.
“It’s huge for the club, it hasn’t happened in quite a few years so hopefully we can get conference championship and then win the whole thing,” he said.
“All season we have been really wanting to play our best basketball and to do that we have to come together as a group and play for each other.”
Weightman said the team had been practicing working as one cohesive unit, especially in defence, with positioning, stance and constant communication crucial to winning the game.
Socially the group has also remained united, even enjoying a team dinner together.
Import Marvin King-Davis said the team chemistry is something that has been developing all season.
“We’ve just started playing better together and that’s how we got number one spot,” he said.
King-Davis and teammate Davon Usher bring their own playoff experience to the team, after helping the University of Delaware’s Fightin’ Blue Hens to a conference championships.
“Just play hard the whole game, that’s all it’s about,” King-Davis said.
“A playoff game is different to a regular season game – it’s way more intense because you’re playing to stay alive.”
While focuses this week have included better ball movement and working together as a team offensively, Miners coach Eric Hayes has underlined the importance of defence.
“Defensively, it’s about just being solid, making it tough for the other team to score, a hand up on every shot,” he said.
“If we can do that consistently, we give ourselves a chance of holding a team to a pretty low score.
“No matter what we do offensively, we are always going to be a chance to win the game or a chance to win the game comfortably if we do that.”
The game will be Ballarat’s first home final in 11 years and the players are looking forward to sharing the moment with the fans.