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Boomers shaping as the 2017 Asian Cup favourites
The Australian Boomers have been drawn in Group D for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup tournament that will take place in Beirut, Lebanon from 8-20 August.
Making their debut in the event alongside New Zealand as part of the revised FIBA World Cup qualification system, the Boomers have drawn Japan, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei in the group stage. The Boomers will go in as heavy favourites in their group with the second highest ranked team in the group sitting at a lowly world ranking of 48th. With the tournament undergoing a revamp, the Asia Cup will now be contested every four years.
The top three teams from each group will progress to the second phase, where the tournament then becomes a ‘knock out’. The top team from each respective group will automatically qualify for the quarterfinals, while the second and third seeds from each group will playoff for a spot in the quarters.
2017 FIBA Asia Cup Draw | Credit FIBA
Australia and New Zealand will enter the tournament as overwhelming favourites. The Kiwis are ranked 20th in the FIBA World Rankings, while the 10th ranked Aussies are fresh off finishing fourth in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
2015 champions China are the top ranked team in Asia at 14th and are considered the biggest threat to the Oceania powerhouses. 2013 champions Iran (#25) and 2015 runners-up Philippines (#28) are also outside contenders for Asia’s crown.
While the championship will take place during the NBA off-season, it is not expected that Australia's NBA representatives will take part. It is possible that European based stars such as Ryan Broekhoff and Brock Motum could yet feature, however the bulk of the Boomers and Tall Blacks are expected to feature a host of NBL stars. There is the potential that 2016 Olympians, Chris Goulding, Cameron Bairstow and Kevin Lisch could lead the way for the Boomers. Veterans David Andersen and Brad Newley, the latter who was overlooked for Rio, could also be possible selections. However the tournament is also the ideal platform from which to blood the next generation of Australian stars, including the likes of Nathan Sobey, Jason Cadee and potentially some US college-based basketball rising stars such as Jock Landale (Saint Mary's) and Deng Adel (Louisville).
The tournament will serve as the Boomers first look at their new Asian rivals, with Andrej Lemanis’ team now having to qualify through the Asian region for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Australia will face Japan, Chinese Taipei and the Philippines in its world cup qualifying group, kicking off on November 24.
Stay tuned for squad announcements from the Boomers in the coming weeks.