Boomers shoul­der World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion bur­den

The Western Star - - SPORT -

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.

Photo: DAR­REN ENG­LAND

SHIN­ING BRIGHT: The Aus­tralian team cel­e­brates af­ter win­ning gold in the men’s bas­ket­ball fi­nal against Canada.

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