Australian NBA stars Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker have been named in the Boomers side that is schedule to take on Japan and the Philippines in the next FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers on 29 June 2 July.
Having already booked a ticket into the next round of qualifying for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, having chalked up four straight wins without a loss. In taking on Japan and the Philippines in their return encounters on the road, the Boomers will be even more imposing with the addition of the Milwaukee Bucks duo.
Maker's selection seals his commitment to Australia, with the South Sudanese migrant set to pull on the green and gold for the first time. Head coach Andre Lemanis explained that he was excited to be able to add Maker to the team in the official Basketball Australia release.
“This is an exciting time for us as a team and for Thon as well. I’m really pleased for him that all the work he has put in to this point will now be rewarded with an opportunity to play for Australia.
“We have been following his progress and keeping in contact for a number of years now and he has always said he wants to play for Australia – it’s great for him that goal is now being realised.
“It is also really exciting for the Sudanese community who now call Australia home. Thon is a wonderful representative and role model who will inspire others to strive for success in their chosen field.”
"I’ll definitely play the June (qualifiers). I’m excited to play on the world stage. That’s my biggest aim – just being there, getting a shot and representing Australia. It’s something I really wanted to do from the beginning."
Fellow Milwaukee Buck and Rio Olympian Dellavedova joins his Bucks team-mate, providing increased depth and versatility across the Australian national men's team program.
“We have said all along that this FIBA format means the Boomers group is now bigger than ever and needs to be fluid,” added Lemanis. Maintaining the connection throughout the entire group is challenging, so the inclusion of Delly and Thon is a wonderful way for us to continue to grow as an entire team.
“For the guys who have carried the load through the first two windows, it will be a great experience for them to play with both Delly and Thon. The skill set and experience they will add to the team is exciting for all of us and it will be interesting to watch how this team comes together in a short space of time. Delly has been a part of the Boomers program for a long time now and understands the culture and it will be a good opportunity for Thon to add his influence.”
While Dellavedova and Maker are sure to make a positive impact on and off the court, re-joining the team is Mitch McCarron who returns after winning the 2018 Slovenian national league championship with Olimpija this week. Making way for the three additions are Mitch Norton, Matt Hodgson and Mitch Creek, with the latter two focusing on their NBA aspirations in the US.
Lemanis made it clear that despite adding NBA talent to his side, he is still is expecting two difficult games on the road.
“We know it is going to be difficult playing Japan and the Philippines at their respective venues," added Lemanis. “We saw how loud it was when we played in Melbourne with the Filipino fans dominating the environment, and with a stadium capacity of 50,000, that game is something all the guys are looking forward to.
“International basketball is always great basketball played to a very high level. We will need to play well to give ourselves an opportunity for success. In the end, we need to stay focused on playing Boomer basketball.”
Ideally, the two upcoming games would have been scheduled to be played in Australia to take advantage of the possibility that a number of home-grown NBA and European stars may take part. However it was a case of missed opportunity by Basketball Australia who had the chance to request these two games be played at home in place of others prior to the qualifying schedule being finalised. While Australian fans will miss out on seeing their NBA Boomers stars on court live, they will be able to watch the action live on Fox Sports Australia.
Lemanis and his side will assemble in Melbourne on 21 June 21 before leaving for Japan on 25 June. They will then travel directly to the Philippines on 30 June for their bout in front of 55,000 Filipino fans.
Australian Boomers for the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers Third Window NAME CLUB Angus Brandt Perth Wildcats Jason Cadee Brisbane Bullets Matthew Dellavedova Milwaukee Bucks (USA) Cameron Gliddon Brisbane Bullets Chris Goulding Melbourne United Nick Kay Perth Wildcats Daniel Kickert Sydney Kings Kevin Lisch Sydney Kings Mitch McCarron Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia) Thon Maker Milwaukee Bucks (USA) Nathan Sobey Adelaide 36ers Jesse Wagstaff Perth Wildcats FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifying Schedule and Results
24 November 2017: Chinese Taipei 66 def by Boomers 104 27 November 2017: Boomers 82 def Japan 58 22 February 2018: Boomers 84 def Philippines 68 25 February 2018: Boomers 88 def Chinese Taipei 68 June 29: Japan vs Boomers at 8:40pm AEST July 2: Philippines vs Boomers at 9:30pm AEST