Breaking down the Boomers squad for the FIBA 2023 World Cup
The final roster came together in an unexpected fashion, but here's what we are looking at.
Australia, meet your warriors.
The final Boomers squad is all but locked in ahead of the 2023 FIBA Men’s World Cup, with an untimely injury to star centre Jock Landale trimming their group to the required 12 players. Even with that huge blow, it might be the most talented group to wear the green and gold, featuring nine current NBA players and eight holdovers from the medal-winning Tokyo 2020 Olympics side.
In trimming the initial squad of 18 that travelled to Cairns for training camp, coach Brian Goorjian and his staff were forced to make some tough decisions. “Would I take all of these players if I could? Absolutely, but that’s the hardest part of sport, you have to make the cuts,” Goorjian said during the team’s training camp.
The quality of players cut in that process speaks volumes to the growth that Australian basketball has enjoyed over the last decade-plus, even with some injury chaos thrown into the mix. With experience, versatility, and a level of talent that would rival any other team in the tournament, the final Boomers squad will enter the World Cup among the handful of favourites. Those in charge had some difficult conversations and made those calls, building what they see as the best roster to challenge for a second straight medal at a major event.
The Australian basketball public has long fretted over a perceived lack of big man depth in recent Boomers squads. While that might be true in a literal sense —this year’s squad has just one player taller than six-foot-nine— it has so far proven to be a non-factor. Even after Aron Baynes went down in Tokyo, the Boomers were a top-three team in offensive rebounding, scrapping and clawing against bigger opponents and coming out on top.
Jock Landale was a crucial part of that success, and he was set to be Australia’s starting centre once again at the World Cup. That was still the plan even as he sat out Australia's first two warmup games in Melbourne, and all was well when he returned in Thursday’s clash with South Sudan. He lasted just five minutes, though, before rolling his ankle and immediately hobbling down the tunnel. While scans will be needed to determine the specifics of the injury, it is expected to keep him in Australia and out of the tournament.
“Telling the truth here, he’s not getting on the plane with us… I’m of the mindset right now as if we don’t have him,” Goorjian said following the game.
It’s a huge loss, with the big man’s rapid development earning him a role with the Phoenix Suns that only got bigger in the heat of the playoffs. Australia’s biggest body and strongest rebounder, he was set to be a key cog on both ends of the floor, anchoring the defence and likely emerging as one of the team’s leading scorers. Instead, he is now in a race against the clock to be fit for the tournament, a race that he seems certain to lose.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The Pick and Roll to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.