Eyes on the prize: Mills, Baynes locked on for Rio gold
With the Rio Olympics fast approaching Patty Mills and Aron Baynes have flagged the intention of the Boomers to bring home a medal.
While both players are already versed in winning and celebrating with golden trophies, Mills said the team’s target for Rio is a gold medal.
“That’s our goal, mate, and we have said it from day one,” Mills told to Fairfax Media about the team’s lofty ambitions this August. “I think if we can keep our eyes on the prize we are going to give it one hell of a crack.”
The Boomers should be well represented by the first layer of Australia’s golden generation, who are amidst their prime and now boast significant NBA, European and international experience.
“We have a lot of guys now who are experienced but still young, that can come together and understand the goal and move forward together as a group,” Mills said.
The team likely to feature four NBA players with Finals experience in Mills, Baynes, Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova, along with Joe Ingles and Cameron Bairstow from NBA rosters.
European stars Ryan Broekhoff, David Andersen, Brock Motum and Brad Newley are expected to round out the team’s core of overseas-based players.
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Baynes, also speaking with Fairfax Media, said the Boomers have developed genuine camaraderie among the players, with the drive for Australian success bringing them even closer together.
“We want to keep in contact with each other and be a team throughout the year and not just the three months. It’s something we have been building on for eight years. We are all invested in it. We want to do it. It lets us keep in contact.” Baynes said.
There is certainly no doubting the commitment of the players, with Baynes saying the thought of upcoming Olympics permeates everything they do basketball-wise, seemingly above and beyond their million-dollar contracts.
“We have our sights set on coming together as a team for Rio. That’s definitely something that is in the back of your mind. Everything we are doing out here [in America] is trying to get ready for that,” Baynes said.
A major advantage the Boomers will have over many of their rivals is the continuity of the core players making it easier for the the team gel and pick up the game plan each time they get together.
“With us staying together as a group of guys, we won’t have that as big learning curve when we come together,” Baynes said.
“We have our sights focused on getting to the medal round. We have the talent level, it’s just about coming together as a team and fostering that.”
Unfortunately, Australia is likely to be without two of its brightest prospects for the Olympic tournament. Dante Exum is all but ruled out while he rehabs from his ACL injury, while Ben Simmons should be busy acclimatizing to life as a NBA player, although he is not completely ruled out at this stage.
Regardless, Mills and Baynes remain confident that the Aussies have enough firepower, chemistry and nous to beat the best teams in the world.
You’ve been warned, Julian de Stoop!
Thank you for loving Aussie hoops! From Kein, Damian and #TeamPnR