Ballarat Miners are playing for finals survival when they take on Geelong in front of what is expected to be a sell-out crowd at the Minerdome on Saturday night.
With both teams competing for a preliminary finals spot, the game could mark the end of Supercats’ Nathan Herbert and Jamie Medved’s South East Australian Basketball League careers.
Ballarat GMHBA Miners coach Nathan Cooper-Brown knows he has the personnel to achieve the ultimate success, but he needs the team to fire all at once.
“One of the biggest things in SEABL is consistency – if you are consistent you tend to be successful, and that’s both as an individual and as a team,” Cooper-Brown said.
“We know we’ve got plenty of talent, we just need that consistency to play at the elite level and to tap into those skills and ability night in and night out.
“We haven’t done that particularly well this year, hence why we didn’t finish quite as high as we wanted to and dropped some games we shouldn’t have. But if we can tap into that now then I think we’re well on our way to winning a championship.”
Geelong is on a four-game winning streak and has carried its form late in the season into finals with a comprehensive victory over North West Tasmania.
The Supercats had four players reach double digits in that game with Maalo Hicks (18 points, nine rebounds), DeMarcus Gatlin (16 points), John Davis (15 points, eight rebounds) and Nathan Herbert (14 points, eight assists).
Cooper-Brown described the Supercats as a talented and well-coached squad with veterans who knew how to get out of tough situations.
“They play well together, so we expect a team that knows what they’re doing, plays to their strengths and a team that won’t go away,” he said. “So if we end up getting a lead on them, which is what we plan on doing, we can’t rest on that.
“We have to keep working and make sure we put them away as soon as possible.”
Cooper-Brown said it would be important to be conscious of Supercats’ stars such as Herbert, Davis and Gatlin – knowing where they were on the floor and what they were trying to do.
“We’ve had a good week of practice,” the coach said. “The guys understand what we are trying to do... defensively I thought we were better, offensively I thought we were even better than that.”
While the Miners previously defeated Geelong at home this season, the squad will be without its top scorer from that game Davon Usher.
Everyone else is available to play.
With everything on the line, the Miners are excited to use the energy from the crowd to advantage.
“When two communities that care about basketball that much clash it’s always a good showing,” Cooper-Brown said.