A tremendous season of basketball for Ballarat has come to an end as the Miners were eliminated from the NBL1 finals on Saturday evening by the Nunawading Spectres, losing 75-68.
The sold out Minerdome crowd was left speechless following the loss, which saw the Miners trail by as many as 15 points late in the third quarter.
Ballarat however never gave up, mounting a fight-back fueled by deafening fan support from the stands, taking a one-point lead with two minutes remaining.
Watch our sport team break down the contest here:
It was unfortunately not enough for the Miners as the Spectres put together an 8-0 run over the final 90 second to move on to the NBL1 grand final against the Bendigo Braves.
Captain Josh Fox led the Miners in scoring, tallying 22 points while Nunawading's Dain Swetalla put together an amazing performance, finishing the contest with 27 points and 10 rebounds.
Speaking to The Courier following the loss, Ballarat star Sam Short said the defeat was painful to deal with.
It's really tough, it hurts a lot,Sam Short
"I thought we really let ourselves down... we let the lead grow to a point where if we came back and won it it was going to take a hell of an effort.
"We almost got there... we stuck with it, we made a few key shots when we needed to but we just couldn't finish the job off down the stretch."
Short said the support from the crowd was a major contributor to the Miners pulling themselves back into the game over the last 15 minutes of the contest.
"It's hard to explain, it's tough when you find yourself in a hole like that but you know you have the support of the whole community behind you.
"Every time we made a basket it felt like the ground was shaking and that just lifts you to a whole another level. All five guys out there were absolutely spent and you're trying to find that extra gear and the crowd just helps you do that."
The loss marks the third straight year the Miners have progressed to the NBL1/SEABL finals, only to fall short of a grand final appearance. Short, who has been a member of all three of those teams says the losses will only help motivate him going forward both in the NBL and NBL1.
"We know how much it hurts to work so hard in the regular season and then lose. For myself it's happened that last couple of years so it hurts that little bit more that we couldn't get it done so I'm definitely going to use this no matter what I'm doing.
"I said in the huddle after the game to use this loss as motivation the next time you step on the court, whether that be in the NBL or the NBL1 next year."
Three of the Miners' staring lineup of players are set to play in the NBL next year. Short will suit up for his third year with Melbourne United, Deng Acuoth will stay in Victoria with new franchise South Melbourne Phoenix and Kuany Kuany will make the move to Sydney to play with the Kings.
American duo Jerry Evans Jr and Marqueze Coleman are set to return to the US.
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