The Australian Boomers are set to get back to what they do best on September 14, that’s play basketball.
The squad for the commencement of the second round of World Cup qualifiers has been revealed, with a few notable changes from the team that took part in the now infamous contest with the Philippines. There are five changes to that team, who are set to take on Qatar in Doha, at 1:00am AEST.
Todd Blanchfield and Daniel Johnson have been named to make their first appearance in World Cup qualification, while Matt Hodgson, Mitch Norton and Jesse Wagstaff have all been selected to return to the squad.
Making way for these players will be Thon Maker and Matthew Dellavedova, who are both ramping up preparations for the 2018-19 season with the Milwaukee Bucks. Maker was also ineligible through suspension, after receiving a three game ban from FIBA for his involvement in the basketbrawl in the Philippines. Also suspended and therefore missing will be Daniel Kickert (5 games) and Chris Goulding (1 game), while Cam Gliddon has also been left out.
Boomers head coach Andrej Lemanis is thrilled for both Blanchfield and Johnson, who have been on the fringe of selection for the last few qualification windows.
“It’s great for both Todd and Daniel to have this opportunity,” Lemanis said. “Todd knows the Boomers system and culture from the FIBA Asia Cup campaign and will slot straight back in to the group. Daniel had a tremendous NBL season and has been a member of the extended squad for every window – I’m pleased for him that he now comes in to the 12 and we all look forward to working with him.”
The contest against Qatar marks the commencement of the second window for the Boomers, who finished the first portion on top of their group. The second round of qualification will consist of six games against Qatar, Kazakhstan and Iran. The Boomers remain in the box seat for qualification with points from the first round counting towards qualification moving forward and the top three teams from this group will qualify for the World Cup in September next year.
The Boomers racked up 11 points in round 1, which leaves them tied with Iran at that mark. Kazakhstan with nine points and Qatar with eight will both be chasing from behind in the race to book their tickets to the World Cup.
Lemanis remains extremely pleased with the depth of his squad, remaining confident they have to the tools to adjust to whatever style of play is thrown their way.
“These opponents have slightly different styles from what we experienced during the first round, they tend to have more of an inside focus and more power to their game,” said Lemanis. “But we believe we are versatile, it’s one of our strengths, and we have the ability to get the game at a tempo that suits us rather than our opposition.”
After the rare appearance of NBA talent in Dellavedova and Maker last round, the Boomers will once again field a complete NBL filled roster, with the Perth Wildcats providing the most talent with four players making the final 12-man roster.
It will be a quick turnaround from the fixture in Doha, with the Boomers then set to take on Kazakhstan at Bendigo Stadium on September 17. The squad for the home fixture will be released at a later date, but it remains unknown whether Goulding will return to the team after serving his one game suspension.
Australian Boomers FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifying Schedule
14 Sep: vs Qatar in Doha @ 1:00am
17 Sep: vs Kazakhstan in Bendigo @ 7:00pm
30 Nov: vs Iran at Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne TBA
3 Dec: vs Qatar at Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne TBA
21 Feb: vs Kazakhstan TBA
24 Feb: vs Iran TBA
Australian Boomers vs Qatar on September 13
Todd BLANCHFIELD / Illawarra Hawks
Angus BRANDT / Perth Wildcats
Jason CADEE / Brisbane Bullets
Anthony DRMIC / Adelaide 36ers
Matthew HODGSON / Brisbane Bullets
Daniel JOHNSON / Adelaide 36ers
Nicholas KAY / Perth Wildcats
Kevin LISCH / Sydney Kings
Mitch MCCARRON / Melbourne United
Mitch NORTON / Perth Wildcats
Nathan SOBEY / Adelaide 36ers
Jesse WAGSTAFF / Perth Wildcats