In a major coup, Basketball Australia's Boomers are set to host Canada in Perth in a two-game series in the lead up to the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China tipping off on 31 August.
An advertising banner erected at Perth train station prior to any official announcement being made by Basketball Australia gives everything away, an image of which was subsequently shared on Twitter. According to the advertising banner, the exhibition games against the world ranked 23rd team are set to be played at Perth's RAC Arena on 16 and 17 August.
The Pick and Roll has since learned that Boomers head coach Andrej Lemanis will hold a press conference in Perth on Wednesday, 11am local time to formally announce the series.
While the series against Canada has not yet been made official, it would be held a week before the Boomers host Team USA at Melbourne's Marvel Arena in a blockbuster event set to be played in front of more than 100,000 fans combined.
The Canadian's have been drawn with Australia in Group H which has widely been deemed the "Group of Death", with world number six Lithuania, Senegal (37th) joining the eleventh ranked Boomers.
Canada is viewed as a genuine medal contender in China, with their talent pool belying their world ranking status. Canada qualified for the World Cup by topping Group F in the FIBA Americas qualifiers, boasting a record that equaled that of Team USA (10-2) boasting NBA G League players, and ahead of world number twelve Brazil and Venezuela (20th).
Like Australia, Canada boast a growing wealth of NBA talent and could possibly suit up a squad featuring the likes of Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets), Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota Timberwolves), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers), Corey Joseph (Indiana Pacers), Kelly Olynyk (Miami Heat) and Nik Stauskas (Portland Trail Blazers) among others. While Argentina remains ranked fourth in the world, Canada is likely to be the more favoured team from the Americas region to challenge for a medal in China.
Whether Ben Simmons commits or not, Australia is likely to roll out a growing list of NBA stars which currently stands at a record 13 with the recent signing of Mitch Creek (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Isaac Humphries (Atlanta Hawks). Established stars, including Boomers mainstays Joe Ingles and Patty Mills, have both recently confirmed their availability, while a host of others performing exceptionally well in Europe, and US High School phenom Josh Green, are all likely to be available for selection.
While Australia has not encountered Canada in recent times, they have crossed paths at five World Cup’s, most recently in 1998, with both countries having grown in stature on the world stage since that time.
The Boomers went close to securing a first ever medal at any major event at the 2016 Rio Olympics, going down to Spain in the bronze medal playoff in controversial circumstances. Playing teams of the quality of Team USA and Canada in the lead up to the World Cup should provide the Boomers with the prepartion they will need to hopefully go one better in China.