Stars align for NZ series
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.