The Australian Boomers are due to play Canada Basketball tomorrow, in the first of two exhibition games, and there's still no news on Sacramento King guard, Cory Joseph's arrival in Australia.
Raptors beat writer Doug Smith, has commented that the Joseph is expected to rejoin the Canadian team "soon". Canada's associate head coach, Gordie Herbert echoed the same sentiment. “We expect him to join the group at some time. It’s uncertain at this time.”
The 27 year old guard wasn't with his teammates during today's practice session earlier today. Barring a last-minute arrival tomorrow, it seems like Joseph will not be playing in the Perth games, and leaves 26 year old big man, Khem Birch as the only NBA player on the team.
Update: John Casey has tweeted that Joseph will rejoin Canada in Sydney.
“Obviously we don’t have many guys in the NBA, but we have guys who are ready to play, and are pretty tough,” Canadian 6'4 guard, Phil Scrubb said during today's media session. “Just want to be tough, and obviously shoot the ball well.”
Cory Joseph's role as a veteran leader and star player however, creates a big gap for the team, one that isn't replaced easily. This is more keenly felt on back-to-back road games against an upcoming opponent in the group stage. The challenge rises further, when considering the significant roster continuity and NBA-level experience the Australian Boomers possess. Even when faced with the unwelcome news of Xavier Cooks' injury, Australia has had forward Mitch Creek reportedly rejoining the Boomers, which is a solid addition by any measure.
Canadian guard, Kevin Pangos, who currently plays in Europe, knows that challenges lie ahead.
“We have to come together as a group the best we can,” the 26 year old guard shared with the media yesterday. “I think we have to play hard defensively. We can’t make mistakes. Just coming together as a team is probably the biggest thing that will accelerate our team.
“I think we’ve seen some improvement. There still haven’t been that many games. We kinda just went right into it. We have time here to work out the kinks, and try to become as strong as we can by the time the World Championships come around.”
Needless to say, tomorrow's game could be a real preview of Australia's opening game in the FIBA 2019 World Cup, should Joseph's absence persist into the actual tournament.
International Basketball Series game schedule
Australian Boomers vs Canada Basketball, Friday 16 August 2019 , 7:30pm
Australian Boomers vs Canada Basketball, Saturday 17 August 2019 , 7:30pm
Canada Basketball vs New Zealand, Tuesday 20 August 2019 , 7:30pm
Canada Basketball vs New Zealand, Wednesday 21 August 2019 , 7:30pm
Australian Boomers vs USA Basketball, Thursday 22 August 2019 , 7:30pm
Australian Boomers vs USA Basketball, Saturday 24 August 2019, 2:00pm
USA Basketball vs Canada Basketball, Monday 26 August 2019, 7:30pm
All times are denoted in AEST. All exhibition games in in this series will be available to watch on free to air, via SBS.