Boomers shoulder World Cup qualification burden
BASKETBALL: It may have been Commonwealth Games gold, but for Australia’s men’s basketball team, the medal around their necks was reward for far more than their Gold Coast accomplishments.
This was about recognition for greater efforts, the same group having also been entrusted with qualifying Australia for the 2019 basketball World Cup.
But few if any of them will get the chance to play against the likes of the US next year, when the nation’s growing batch of NBA players return to the green and gold fold.
So yesterday’s 87-47 romp over Canada in the gold medal game was their recognition, their moment to shine.
“For a lot of them, they gave up significant financial opportunities overseas to stay and play in the Commonwealth Games,” Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis said.
“It meant a lot to them as a group. “But everyone knows the reality – these guys are doing the heavy lifting for World Cup qualification without any guarantee of being on the team.”
Added veteran Daniel Kickert, Australia’s most consistent performer throughout the tournament: “A lot is resting on our shoulders without our NBA group of guys, our European guys.
“The Asia Cup, the World Cup qualifiers and now the Comm Games rest on our shoulders.
“We feel a big part of ownership of this team. We know we’re the caretakers for now and we’ve just got to put our best foot forward and show how strong Australian basketball is from top to bottom.”
Lightning failed to strike twice for Canada as Australia made good on pre-tournament favouritism with the 40-point win.
Canada stunned New Zealand with a last-second semi-final win on Saturday.
SHINING BRIGHT: The Australian team celebrates after winning gold in the men’s basketball final against Canada.