With scores tied and just seconds left of the final term, Ballarat Miners captain Peter Hooley attempted a shot to win the game but missed, sending a qualifying final against Nunawading into overtime on Saturday night.
Ballarat GMHBA Miners coach Nathan Cooper-Brown said the poor defensive effort that followed, with the team giving up 15 points in five minutes, was a key factor in the six-point loss at Nunawading Stadium.
It had been an arm wrestle in the opening minutes of the South East Australian Basketball League clash, before Nunawading found momentum hitting nine three-pointers in the first half.
Tom Wright had an immediate impact for the Spectres, but the Miners were able to get going inside after fouling out Nunawading star Simon Conn in the second half.
Miner Nic Pozoglou saved his best performance for the finals, leading in points and rebounds at the end of regulation and ending the game making a double-double of 30 points and 15 rebounds.
“I was really proud of him to step up in the finals,” Cooper-Brown said.
“It was fantastic to see him be really aggressive… we said to him to go to glass every time and the way he attacked the O-boards and created second chance points or further possessions had a huge influence on how we were going.
“Hopefully he will continue that next week and we will get some other guys to match his performance.”
While the Miners stopped short of getting the result, Cooper-Brown gave credit to Nunawading and said there were still a lot of positives from his team’s performance.
“They (Nunawading) shot really well – their bigs fouled out but they ended up going 15 for 30 from the three-point line,” Cooper-Brown said.
“They absolutely played their hearts out… they gave us their best game and we didn’t rise to it in overtime.”
Cooper-Brown said a huge Ballarat fan contingent made the trip to Nunawading.
“They were unreal,” he said.
“The amount of noise they made, the way they created a supportive environment around our bench just proves that they are the best fans in the league and we’re really appreciative of them to make the effort.”
The Miners will now play a semi-final against Geelong at the Minerdome on Saturday.
After missing the latter stages of the South East Australian Basketball League season, Ballarat Miners were caught off guard by the return of injured Nunawading import Dain Swetalla.
Ballarat GMHBA Miners coach Nathan Cooper-Brown had believed Swetalla to be in the United States undergoing surgery in the lead up to Saturday’s qualifying final at Nunawading Stadium.
“He had been injured for about two months and we’d been told he was back in America,” Cooper-Brown said after the game.
“We hadn’t prepared for him in the scouting report… that was a bit of a shock.”
Swetalla played 34 minutes of the game to end with a contribution of 13 points, six rebounds and four assists.
But Cooper-Brown was pleased to see Miners’ athletic import Josh Fox shine for a third time this year against Nunawading, making a double-double of 23 points and 14 rebounds, while import Marvin King-Davis also stepped up for the Miners with 16 points and seven rebounds for the game.