Basketball Australia has named a new-look Boomers team to complete their 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifying campaign on the road against Kazakhstan and Iran on 22 and 25 February 2019.
Having already qualified for the World Cup that tips off in China from 31 August, NBA G League stars Mitch Creek (Long Island Nets) and Isaac Humphries (Erie Bayhawks), along with European stars Jock Landale (Partizan) and Mangok Mathiang (Vanoli Cremona) have been included to add a new dimension to the Boomers line-up.
Creek only recently became the eleventh Australian to play in the NBA this season after earning two 10-day contracts with the Brooklyn Nets before returning to the Long Island Nets in the G League, while Mathiang played with the Charlotte Hornets in the NBA last season before making his European debut with Italian side Vanoli Cremona this season. While Creek has been a mainstay of the Boomers Asian qualifying campaign, Mathiang will pull on the green and gold for the first time since playing alongside Creek at the 2015 World University Games.
There are no representatives from any of the teams set to play in the 2019 NBL playoffs, with a number of rising stars from teams not in action earning a call up. Illawarra Hawks rookie duo Emmett Naar and Dan Grida have been joined by Adelaide 36ers tandem Harry Froling and Jack McVeigh. Tom Wilson (Sydney Kings) and Jarrad Weeks (New Zealand Breakers) are also set to make their Boomers debuts.
Rounding out the Boomers team named, Tim Coenraad (Illawarra) and veteran Lucas Walker (Cairns) were also added.
With so many changes made, the Boomers will take to the court with 10 new Boomers, with only Creek and Walker having taken to the court for the senior national team previously. The new-look squad is a result of the Boomers coaching staff working closely with the NBL given the timing of the games.
“The NBL and clubs have been amazing in their support of the national team,” said Lemanis.
“We were conscious to work with the clubs, ensuring the welfare of all players and minimising the disruption for those players in the NBL finals. As a result, it opens up a wonderful opportunity for some new talent to shine.”
Wilson, Naar, Froling, McVeigh and Humphries have previously represented Australia at FIBA Under-19 and Under-17 World Cup’s, with a number of the team having played at the World University Games previously.
“To give these guys exposure at an international level is exciting for them and it’s exciting for us as a coaching staff,” said Lemanis.
“We identified at the beginning of the qualifying process that our depth of talent would be tested like never before and it is important for the future of our sport that we continue to develop and grow as broad a base as possible.
“We want the cupboard to remained stocked, so to speak. Giving this 12 the opportunity to experience this level of play is important.
“This situation also gives us the chance to connect with guys like Mangok, Jock and Isaac who have been overseas. For them to make themselves available is phenomenal and I look forward to working with them and seeing how they perform on the international stage.”
Lemanis was particularly excited to welcome back the experienced Creek to the squad.
“Mitch bleeds the green and gold. He’s been doing wonderfully well in the US but for him to now be back in a position to represent Australia is awesome. I’m excited to see his development and his experience will be an important piece for the team in these two games.”
While the upcoming games do not have any influence on Australia's qualification for the World Cup, Lemanis explained that wearing the green and gold was also a special occasion.
“We always take these games seriously,” Lemanis said.
“The fact that we have qualified helps, but we are still there to win and of course we want to represent Australian basketball on the world stage the right way.
“This team of 12 has an opportunity to show what they have to offer on the world stage, and with the World Cup the next international event it is a great time to be playing for Australia."
For Creek, Humphries, Landale and Mathiang in particular, it is an opportunity for them to showcase their abilities at International level ahead of the squad being selected for the World Cup. With the majority of Australia's NBA and European stars expected to make themselves available, it will be a headache for Lemanis to select the team to challenge for a first ever major senior medal in China.
Yet for now, the focus is on beating Kazakhstan and Iran.
Australian Boomers for sixth window of FIBA WC qualifiers
Name / Club
Tim COENRAAD / Illawarra Hawks (NBL)
Mitch CREEK / Long Island Nets (NBA G-League)
Harry FROLING / Adelaide 36ers (NBL)
Daniel GRIDA / Illawarra Hawks (NBL)
Isaac HUMPRHIES / Erie Bayhawks (NBA G-League)
Jock LANDALE / Partizan (Serbia)
Jack MCVEIGH / Adelaide 36ers (NBL)
Mangok MATHIANG / Vanoli Cremona (Italy)
Emmett NAAR / Illawarra Hawks (NBL)
Lucas WALKER / Cairns Taipans (NBL)
Jarrad WEEKS / New Zealand Breakers (NBL)
Tom WILSON / Sydney Kings (NBL)
The Australian Boomers FIBA World Cup Qualifiers Schedule/Results (times AEDT):
22 February: Australia vs Kazakhstan at 1am. Live on FOX Sports Australia channel 507.
25 February: Australia vs Iran at 1.30am. Live on FOX Sports Australia channel 506.