The Boomers and Opals teams have been named by Basketball Australia for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, with the basketball competition commencing on 5 April 2018.
Having won the men’s and women’s events at the 2006 games held in Melbourne, basketball makes it return on the Gold Coast, with Australia naming two strong squads that will head into the tournament as favourites to win gold, with the preliminaries being held at the Cairns Convention Centre and Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre.
— Comm Games AUS (@CommGamesAUS) March 7, 2018
For the Boomers, head coach Andrej Lemanis stuck with the NBL players that have helped compile an impressive 4-0 unbeaten record in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. Mitch Creek who has been the star across all four games will lead the side, with veterans Damian Martin, Brad Newley returning to the team, along with sharpshooter Chris Goulding who has since recovered from injury. One could argue that the inclusion of Newley and Martin is an opportunity to recognise their commitment to the Boomers program over the last decade.
The Opals have selected a star-studded line up made up of almost all current WNBL players as they look to defend their gold from Melbourne. Jenna O’Hea makes a long-awaited return to the Australian national team, joining Melbourne Boomers team-mate Liz Cambage in the side to be coached by Sandy Brondello. Rising star Ezi Magbegor will make her senior tournament debut, while Steph Talbot is the only player in the team who did not play in the last WNBL season, having played in the WNBA with the Phoenix Mercury.
Sandy Brondello and her Opals, the event doubles up as a timely opportunity to work with her squad in preparation for the 2018 FIBA World Cup for Women which will be held in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain from 22 to 30 September.
Australia’s men and women will enter the Games as the highest world ranked teams, with the Boomers at #10 despite their fourth placing at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and the Opals at #4 according to FIBA.com. Canada at #23 and New Zealand at #38 are the next best ranked teams in the men competition. For the women, Canada who are ranked at #5 and pooled with the Opals are sure to pose the greatest threat, with Mozambique (#25) the next highest ranked team competing as Great Britain (#21) will not compete as a nation, with England entered instead who could well prove a handful.
The Commonwealth Games basketball tournament which opens on 5 April 2018, will see the introduction of a vastly different looking competition format to those offered by FIBA. The top four seeded teams will be all pooled together, ensuring the more highly ranked nations play against each other, and in turn increasing the number of meaningful games throughout the tournament.
At the conclusion of the Pool stage, the top two teams from Pool A will proceed to the semi-finals. Meanwhile, the bottom two teams from Pool A will play the top two teams from Pool B in the qualifying finals with the remaining two Pool B teams will be eliminated. The winner of the qualifying finals will then advance to the semi-final, which will be followed by the medal matches on the Gold Coast (13-15 April 2018).