Basketball Australia has made three selection changes for the Boomers team of 12 that will take part in the fifth window of FIBA World Cup qualifiers, with David Barlow, Cameron Gliddon and Craig Moller added to the team.
The Boomers require just one more victory to qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, and will have the opportunity to do so when they host Iran and then Qatar at Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne on 30 November and 3 December.
While Gliddon has been one of the mainstays for the Boomers throughout the majority of their qualification campaign, Barlow and Moller's elevation marks a significant milestone in both their respective careers.
Barlow returns to the national team after last pulling on the green and gold at the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championships after participating at both the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics, while Moller caps off his meteoric rise following his switch from playing in the AFL.
The addition of Gliddon, Barlow and Moller however comes at the expense of Chris Goulding, Kevin Lisch and Anthony Drmic. Goulding's omission is an obvious one, with the Melbourne United star battling recent injury, while Lisch's form with the Sydney Kings has not been to the level normally associated with the naturalised Australian guard. Adelaide 36ers star Drmic appears to be the unluckiest one of the trio to miss out, with the wing playing strongly with his NBL club.
Jason Cadee, who boasts the leading assist-to-turnover ratio in the Asian Qualifiers to date, returns in the back court alongside Mitch McCarron, Nathan Sobey and Mitch Norton. The Boomers big men returning for the next window are Matt Hodgson, Nick Kay, Angus Brandt and Daniel Johnson. The team once again had Australian head coach Andrej Lemanis excited for the future of the program.
“I say this every time we name a team but it’s such a luxury having this depth of talent available to select from in Australian basketball,” said coach Andrej Lemanis.
“I’d like to recognise all players in the broader squad and again highlight that each one of them contributes to the success of the Boomer program over time – the team is fluid and everyone contributes in different ways at different times.
“The absolute commitment to acting in the best interests of the team is a trait that we should all be extremely proud of in our players.
“Personally, I’d like to thank every player for their commitment to the national team and for how they value the Boomers. I’m blessed to be associated with such a wonderful group.”
In a deal that has fans outside of Victoria frustrated, the Boomers return to Melbourne's Margaret Court Arena under an agreement with the Victorian State Government, a venue in which they defeated the Philippines and Chinese Taipei in February. The only Boomers home game to be played outside of Victoria during their World Cup qualification campaign was played back on 27 November 2017, when they defeated Japan by 24 points.
Big market cities that includes Sydney, Brisbane and Perth all miss out on hosting the Australian national team in their campaign, but nonetheless, Lemanis was upbeat about playing on home soil.
“Playing in front of our home fans is always such a special buzz and proud moment for everyone involved in the team – there is no better feeling in sport.”
Iran is a formidable opponent and will be looking to delay Australia's qualification for the World Cup. The teams last met in playing off for gold at the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, with the Boomers registering a solid 79-56 victory to claim a debut Asian Cup. While the Boomers are still favoured to account for Iran in Melbourne, if they do happen to fall victim, they have an opportunity to book their ticket to the World Cup just days later against Qatar who has failed to be competitive against the Australians to date.
“Hopefully we can pack out Margaret Court Arena and make it a truly wonderful atmosphere for both games,” said Lemanis.
“There is something uniquely special about international basketball competition – those who have been before know the prideful, passionate feeling that embraces you in the stands.
“If you haven’t had the chance to feel that in the past, we encourage you to take this opportunity to do so.”
Australian Boomers for the fifth window of FIBA World Cup qualifiers:
David BARLOW / Melbourne United Todd BLANCHFIELD / Illawarra Hawks Angus BRANDT / Perth Wildcats Jason CADEE / Brisbane Bullets Cameron GLIDDON / Brisbane Bullets Matthew HODGSON / Brisbane Bullets Daniel JOHNSON / Adelaide 36ers Nick KAY / Perth Wildcats Mitch MCCARRON / Melbourne United Craig MOLLER / Melbourne United Mitch NORTON / Perth Wildcats Nathan SOBEY / Adelaide 36ers
The Australian Boomers Schedule for the second round of FIBA World Cup qualifiers (all times AEDT):
Fourth Window: September 14: Australia def Qatar 95-43 September 17: Australia def Kazakhstan 94-41 Fifth Window: November 30: Australia vs. Iran at Margaret Court Arena at 7.30pm December 3: Australia vs. Qatar at Margaret Court Arena at 7.30pm Sixth Window: February 21: Australia at Kazakhstan: Time TBA February 24: Australia at Iran: Time TBA