Stars align for NZ se­ries

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - NICK SMART

FOUR of Aus­tralia’s NBA su­per­stars will line up for the Boomers at a packed Rod Laver Arena next month but guard Patty Mills won’t be one of them.

The Townsville Bul­letin can re­veal An­drew Bogut, Matthew Dellave­dova, Dante Exum and Cameron Bairstow will all play as part of the strong­est Boomers team to ever be as­sem­bled on home soil. But for­mer Townsville Crocodiles swing­man Todd Blanch­field was left out of the 12- man team.

The Boomers and Opals will meet the New Zealand Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns in Mel­bourne on Au­gust 15 in the first game of the FIBA Ocea­nia Cham­pi­onship two- match se­ries. The dou­ble- header will be broad­cast live free- to- air on the Nine Net­work in a huge win for Aus­tralian bas­ket­ball.

Mills will miss the much­hyped se­ries af­ter fail­ing to meet the Boomers’ set se­lec­tion cri­te­ria.

While Mills is avail­able for the Ocea­nia Cham­pi­onships, he is not avail­able for the fastap­proach­ing Boomers’ Euro­pean tour ow­ing to a num­ber of crit­i­cal fac­tors.

The San An­to­nio Spurs star, who had surgery at the end of last sea­son, con­tin­ues to un­dergo spe­cialised re­hab and train­ing to re­gain full strength in his shoul­der.

Mills and the Spurs de­cided he would not be avail­able for the Euro­pean tour and he has been omit­ted for the se­ries with the Tall Blacks.

Joe In­gles ( Utah Jazz) and Aron Baynes ( Detroit) are the two other no­table ab­sen­tees.

“We are ob­vi­ously dis­ap­pointed that Patty can’t join us on the Euro­pean tour and as a re­sult, has been omit­ted from the team for this cam­paign but we un­der­stand and re­spect his po­si­tion,” Boomers coach An­drej Le­ma­nis said.

“As dif­fi­cult as it is for us to leave Patty out of the team, at the start of our plan­ning for this Rio qual­i­fi­ca­tion, the coach­ing staff agreed that it is vi­tal that we un­der­take prepa- ra­tions for the Ocea­nia Cham­pi­onships as a team to bet­ter un­der­stand how, as a group, we can em­bark on a suc­cess­ful cam­paign in Rio.

“Patty has a proud and pas­sion­ate com­mit­ment to the Aus­tralian Boomers and I’m look­ing for­ward to work­ing with him, Joe and Aron in our de­ter­mined push for a lon­gawaited medal at the Rio Olympics.”

The Boomers coach said he was thrilled with the star- stud­ded squad.

“I’m re­ally pleased with the team we have been able to put to­gether,” Le­ma­nis said.

Only a few thou­sand seats re­main for the match and Le­ma­nis is pre­dict­ing a big night for the sport.

“It’s … a won­der­ful re­flec­tion of where Aus­tralian bas­ket­ball is at the mo­ment that we’re able to play at Rod Laver Arena,” he said.

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