This news might be old judging by Internet standards, but Basketball Australia held a press conference today, and formally announced the addition of Patty Mills for the coming FIBA Oceania Championships.
The assembled media started off with some light-hearted banter about Patty's birthday today, with the guard smiling and asking for a birthday song. The talk moved on to Patty's thoughts on joining the Boomers, who sounded enthusiastic at being back with the team.
“Look, obviously I'm excited. I'm more than excited to be back.
Back with the boys... the situation isn't obviously ideal, with Dante going down. Nonetheless, this decision was about the boys and the teammates, and what we've built - not only the last few years with [coach Andrej Lemanis] but what I've added to the culture since I've first came in, in 2006. It's always about the team, and about the boys, so that was what the decision is based on, and I couldn't be more excited to come back and be a part of this campaign.
The only factor is my ability to play, and health-wise, and once I've passed all the physical [tests], it was a no-brainer to jump on a plane and be back. But like I said, I'm more than excited and thrilled to be able to come home, and play in front of a home crowd, and help the boys, and hopefully get to Rio."
When asked about his physical status, Patty expressed confidence in his shoulder and physical conditioning, firmly saying that he would not be here if he was not able to play. This news likely sets the hearts of many fans at ease, seeing as Patty had struggled with his shoulder during the last NBA season.
Patty Mills' addition to the team comes as no surprise. On the contrary, it was his earlier exclusion that had sparked debate.
In a press conference following Dante Exum's injury, Boomers coach Lemanis was concerned about team chemistry and understanding of the system earlier, and Patty checks the boxes easily. Being an experienced Boomer who has been in multiple campaigns and also the MVP from the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championship, Mills is without a doubt the best possible replacement the team can hope for at this time.
Patty concurs on his value as an experienced veteran and mentioned in today's conference, that the focus was going to be on staying competitive and playing with full effort.
"We haven't really talked into nuts and bolts yet, about minutes. But regardless of a couple of years missed on my behalf, my experience is what's going to trump learning plays, and X's and O's, and what type of shape I'm in. It's just effort, and the ability to compete every possession. So I think that's my focus throughout this week and the series, that's it. To be competitive every possession, offensively, defensively, and that trumps most things."
As a player who made his mark in the NBA as a tenacious defender and confident scorer from deep, Mills' presence bolsters the guard rotation significantly. Exum had displayed significant strides in his shooting during the Summer League, and Mills definitely is a top-level upgrade in this area, and more.
Let's not forget the 2012 London Olympics, when Patty Mills made a buzzer-beating three-pointer to clinch a 82-80 victory over Russia.
Mills is also known for his explosive scoring. During the Spurs' championship 2013-14 season, he averaged 10.2 points and scored on a sizzling 42.5% of his three-pointers. The guard also played a pivotal role as a bench scorer during the NBA Finals, with double-digit scoring performances (14 points in Game 4, 17 points in Game 5) during the final two games of the series.
Liam Santamaria from Downtown did an extensive analysis of the Tall Blacks' offensive sets. New Zealand places a great deal of focus on executing their sets around 26 year old Corey Webster. Webster, who sank 42% of his three-pointers with the Breakers last season, is confident and will not hesitate to pull the trigger whenever defenses sag.
The Boomers have to be prepared and recognise the actions that lead to the shot opportunities, and coach Lemanis recognises the need to stay focused on winning this series.
"Everyone is talking up the hype about next season's Olympics, but the reality is we're playing a very good team in New Zealand. We need to focus on what we need to do to be the best that we can be on Saturday, to give ourselves the best opportunity to win. Let's get through this first, and worry about what comes through afterwards."
Mills' dogged determination on defense will provide the team with another key defender against Webster. Patty displayed some brilliant defensive pressure against the Tall Blacks during Game 2, recording five steals along with 12 points, four rebounds and six assists.
Watch how Patty took the ball away in this possession and sprinted for the layup, getting fouled and sinking the free throws after.
Or this steal that was named as steal of the game. Mills took the perimeter pass away and finished at the rim with impressive poise, despite being defended. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9ZPwoGrPHc Are you excited for this Saturday yet? If you have not purchased tickets, don't forget that the game will be broadcast on free-to-air.