When Craig Moller first arrived in Ballarat as a short-term replacement for the Miners he was better known as a former AFL player than a basketballer.
Moller had been a development player with the Sydney Kings in the NBL, but at that time in early 2016 most of the talk around him still focused on his sporting transformation after three seasons with the Fremantle Dockers.
While obviously getting his foot in the door at the Kings was important, it was after opportunity with the Miners in the South East Australian Basketball League that his basketball career began to take off.
So much so that within a little more than two years down the track and Moller has earned national selection and is set to make his Australian Boomers debut in Melbourne.
The Melbourne United player is part of a 12-strong team to face Iran on Friday, November 30, and Qatar on Monday, December 3, in the next phase of qualification for next year’s FIBA World Cup.
Another former Miners player Nathan Sobey (Adelaide 36ers) is also in the line-up.
Moller’s first stint with the Miners in 2016 lasted just five games. The 24-year-old was recruited to cover an injury to centre Chris Smith, but it was not long before he was back at the Minerdome.
This time it was to replace an injured Dyson King-Hawea. Moller went on to play out the season, totalling 19 games. So much did he impress, he earned a full-time place on the Miners’ roster for 2017.
Then head coach Eric Hayes said at the time that Moller had been vital for the Miners and despite an interrupted 2016 season -back and forward from Sutherland Sharks in the NSW Waratah league, he produced some great basketball.
As good as he was, 2017 would be a break-out year for Moller.
He edged out captain and now Melbourne United teammate Peter Hooley for the Miners most valuable player award – averaging 17.7 points, 10.8 rebounds and three assists a game, and making 16 double doubles in the 22 games.
This proved to be a springboard.
Having played a handful of games with Sydney Kings, Moller stepped up with a move to Melbourne United – becoming a regular with 35 appearances.
While this will be Moller’s first campaign in a national team, he is not completely new to the international stage. He has represented Australia in the World University Games and earlier this year toured China with an NBL all-star team.
He also played for Melbourne United in an NBA pre-season campaign.
Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis, who is a former Ballarat Miners assistant coach, said in referenec to the all-NBL squad that it was such a luxury having a depth of talent available to select from in Australian basketball.
Sobey has competed in every one of the Boomers’ World Cup qualifying games.