Analysing the Boomers' FIBA Asia Cup opponents
Last month the draw was announced for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup to be held in Beirut, Lebanon from 8-20 August, with the Australian Boomers landing in Group D with Japan, Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong. With Australia making their debut at the event, we take a closer look at the Boomers' upcoming opposition and assess whether progressing undefeated from their group is as easy as many think.
Ranked 48th in the world, Japan's last World Cup appearance was more than a decade ago, back in 2006. They are a side that lacks height in the middle, something which the Australians should be able to take advantage of with a host of big men at their disposal.
Keep an eye out for: Yuta Watanabe, if he is available to play for Japan. The 22-year old is the first ever Japanese born basketball player to earn an NCAA Division I scholarship. Standing at 6'8 he could be a threat that Australia will want to lock-down on.
Japan haven't reached an Olympics since 1976, and will no doubt be looking to build some momentum leading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Australia should easily get past Japan, however they must keep their guard up as they have the potential to give the Boomers a scare, especially with their perimeter shooting.
It's been a long time between drinks for Chinese Taipei, having not qualified for the World Cup since 1959. Their last major tournaments were also a disappointment, finishing 13th in the 2015 FIBA Asia Cup, and a just 8th in the FIBA Asia Challenge in 2016.
Keep an eye out for: Liu Cheng, who has shown in the past he can score the basketball with ease. He averaged 18.4 points per game in the 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge, and is the go to guard in the Taipei lineup.
This side offers a similar challenge to that of Japan. It's a side Lemanis' men should beat, however one that also has the potential to cause some headaches with an ability to catch fire from beyond the arc.
The final team of Group D is the lowest ranked of them all. Hong Kong sit 65th on the FIBA international rankings, and will have an incredibly difficult time trying to win a game in this group, let alone qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Keep an eye out for: Duncan Overbeck Reid, he is one of Hong Kong's best. He performed well for his country in the 2015 FIBA Asia Cup, leading the side in a number of statistical categories.
Australia should be far too talented for Hong Kong, as will Japan and Chinese Taipei. This match-up will provide an excellent opportunity for the younger players to get valuable international experience.
Depending on who the Boomers assemble for the tournament, Japan is the only country in Group D likely to provide any significant resistance. Barring a disaster, Australia should progress from Group D as the only undefeated team and in reality, should do so comfortably.
The top three teams from each group will advance to the Second Phase where they will be they be divided into two groups (E & F). The tournament will be played in a knockout format from the quarterfinals onward.