The Courier-Mail




LET’S be honest, preparing for the Tokyo Games won’t be easy in the COVID world we live in, but I’m blessed as a coach to have such a committed Boomers squad that is focused on achieving its gold medal goal.

It’s surreal that the Olympics are only 100 days away. It is creeping up very quickly and there have been so many challenges with that concept of time.

For starters, I came into the Boomers coaching job after a lot of work had already been done. So, I’m in a position personally where there is a very small window as far as preparatio­n goes.

As a result, there are a lot of challenges with COVID and the time we have together as a group before we go into the Olympic village and compete.

But the positive side is that there is a core group there that knows how to play together and has built up a strong Boomers culture.

Timing in life is everything and when you look at my background, I was Boomers coach in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, so I had a relationsh­ip with the emerging players in those squads such as Patty Mills, Joe Ingles and the recently retired Andrew Bogut.

So I feel like I was part of the building of this Boomers culture. You go back to the Sydney 2000 Olympics and that is when my involvemen­t s started when all the senior g guys like Andrew Gaze, Mark Bradtke and Andrew Vlahov r retired and there was nothing l left. There was no carry-over.

The Boomers were unsuccessf­ul in qualifying for the world titles, so I came in with a bunch of new guys like Mills, Ingles and Bogut and there was no culture.

I remember when I started in my preparatio­n for the 2004 Athens Games, every night we had culture sessions and I had someone employed to come on camp and help build that culture again.

Whereas now I come back 10 years later and I walk in and those guys like Mills and Ingles are living and breathing the culture.

And they are driven to transfer the culture to the people who we are adding to this Boomers squad.

I was also part of the start of the Boomers rebuild, so coming in as coach for Tokyo, a big part of me is reflecting on how the likes of Mills and Ingles have developed as leaders in that 10-year window. It has just been incredible.

I regularly chat with the leaders of the group and I do a lot of listening about the culture they built and what it means to them. They are all very committed and it is very strong. They know that they are entering their swan song and it’s important to them.

They also have a passion about the Boomers culture and system not going where it went after the Sydney 2000 Olympics, when there is an eight-year drop off and it builds, and it moves forward through their influence.

For guys like Mills, Ingles and Aron Baynes, the

Boomers culture is part of their DNA.

So when you look at this short window to prepare for Tokyo, I see their passion for the culture as a very powerful ally. That gives me reassuranc­e, comfort and makes me feel like this mountain that I must climb, I have every chance because the players’ understand­ing of the Boomers culture is in place.

It is a very important aspect of being successful in internatio­nal basketball.

When I started, Argentina had the culture through Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola and that group.

And then Lithuania had that culture. The players were where the Boomers guys are now and you could feel it when you went into the village to compete.

The culture had left the Boomers for a period, but this current group has it and it gives us a huge chance to finally break Australia’s men’s medal drought.

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