High stakes as Ballarat Miners, Rush take on arch-rivals Bendigo

Joy Burke, playing under the name Hsi-Le Bao, is a key player in the Ballarat Rush squad, averaging a double-double so far this season. Picture: L:ACHLAN BENCE
Joy Burke, playing under the name Hsi-Le Bao, is a key player in the Ballarat Rush squad, averaging a double-double so far this season. Picture: L:ACHLAN BENCE

IN BALLARAT’S first midweek time slot, Miners and Rush face one of their biggest battles yet with a South East Australian Basketball League showdown against arch-rivals Bendigo on Wednesday.

For the Ballarat GMHBA Miners, their top four position will be on the line when they take to Bendigo Stadium for their only meeting with a tough Braves outfit.

Acting head coach Rob Baker said both teams were in similar positions and with only a few days turnaround, recovery would be key. 

“It’s a big game for us,” he said. “Not only in regards to finals positions and ladders, but also just the rivalry between the teams is huge.”

Keeping to a defensive mindset, which was crucial in a victory over Nunawading, the Miners will work on trying to shut down Bendigo’s impact on the game.

“They’ve got two players, (Jeremy) Kendle and (Ray) Turner, who are just averaging around 25 points and they’re super damaging players,” Baker said. “Once everyone understands their role and plays it, it helps out the team a whole lot more.”

 Ballarat Miners captain Peter Hooley takes a shot from the free-throw line in a game against Mt Gambier at the Minerdome. Picture: DYLAN BURNS

Ballarat Miners captain Peter Hooley takes a shot from the free-throw line in a game against Mt Gambier at the Minerdome. Picture: DYLAN BURNS

For Ballarat Skoda Rush, the task is no easier.

At the start of round 14, Bendigo remains on top of the women’s SEABL ladder with an intimidating 16-game winning streak.

Rush coach Eric Hayes said his team would need to bring its best game and confidence from its weekend’s upset over third-placed Nunawading to beat the best. 

Bendigo’s stars include WNBL talent Kelly Wilson, Nadeen Payne, Kara Tessari  and Ash Karaitiana.

“You have a team that is undefeated and that is not by chance,” Hayes said. 

“They’ve had some games where they were really challenged and they found a way to win. When you’re on a team that is going very well, there is just that belief in the group, so no matter what they can get it done and that is pretty powerful.”

But Hayes said after some disruption throughout the season, Rush was now feeling more comfortable playing together and it was beginning to show in games.

“They have noticed the difference of what happens when we’re all on the same page, it’s pretty good basketball when that happens,” Hayes said.

After finishing her youth league commitments, Laura Taylor will be a welcomed addition to the squad.

Miners and Rush are both hoping for some Ballarat support at a hostile Bendigo Stadium.

Originally published in The Courier