Ballarat’s rising basketball star Sam Short is no stranger to the Minerdome, but he will be swapping his blue and yellow outfit for black on the weekend.
The Ballarat Miner, coming off an impressive South East Australian Basketball League season, will represent Melbourne United in his hometown for the NBL Blitz.
“I’m hoping once I get there it will be all good, all the Ballarat memories will come back to me and it will be a nice home court advantage,” Short said.
“But it’s just another opportunity to play in front of family and friends and the Ballarat crowd, which will be great for me and for them to see such quality basketball in town.”
In his second season with Melbourne, Short is learning from the very best with Olympians Chris Goulding and David Barlow and superstar imports Casper Ware and Josh Boone as teammates and role models.
“It’s sort of an inspiration to see guys that have been to multiple Olympics or had some time in the NBA, it shows that it can be done,” Short said.
“You always want to strive for that level so to see where they’ve gotten to in their careers, you always want to mimic that and even do better. They show the work load you have to put in to get to that level.”
Short said it might be a strange feeling walking into Ballarat’s stadium with a different team, but he could not wait for Ballarat to be treated to the pre-season action.
“Even during the SEABL season, there were always people coming up saying they wanted to come down to a Melbourne game to watch," Short said.
“So to have not just our team, but the whole league in Ballarat so they can see a number of different teams, it’s a really great opportunity to enhance our sport in Ballarat.”
Short said the Blitz would be the first time Melbourne would have its full squad.
The only exception for the reigning champions will be an injured Boone recovering from a hamstring strain.
Other Blitz players familiar with the Minerdome floor include Miners captain Peter Hooley (Melbourne) and former Miners stars Craig Moller (Melbourne) and Nathan Sobey (Adelaide 36ers).
“We will be putting some things in place (during the Blitz) to get ready for the NBA games and for the regular season,” Short said.
“We’ve just spoken about as a group just continually getting better and preparing for the regular season, so just getting used to playing with each other, with different line-ups… it will be really about us this weekend, how we go as a team and how our culture really develops.”
With a lot of new talent on the NBL rosters, the Blitz will allow teams to get a feel for each other before the season kicks off in mid-October.
Bendigo hosted four games on Thursday, while Ballarat hosts eight games on Saturday and Sunday featuring each NBL team twice.
The NBL will stream all Blitz games via Twitter.