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Sky is the limit for Australian basketball, according to Matthew Dellavedova
Australian basketball has never been stronger.
That isn’t just an empty statement – it’s the thought of one of Australia’s NBA champions.
“The sky is the limit,” Matthew Dellavedova told The Pick and Roll, when asked about the state of Aussie hoops.
Judging from all the evidence, it’s hard to disagree.
Not only did we have the historic announcement this week that NBL teams will be facing NBA sides in the upcoming October preseason, but international squads in all age groups are succeeding across the globe.
We know how close the Boomers got to a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. It has been discussed to the nth degree, there is no point crying over spilt milk. Instead, appreciating the current crop of national teams is a more fruitful exercise.
The Crocs and Sapphires dominated the FIBA Oceania Under-17 Championships, and the Opals qualified for next year’s World Cup. Meanwhile the Gems showcased their young talent at the FIBA Under-19 World Cup, while an NBL-filled Boomers team prepare for their Asia Cup campaign, which kicks off in days.
The wealth of Australian talent has one of the country's most celebrated players brimming with pride and confidence in the system that has made this possible.
“It is extremely exciting,” Dellavedova said.
“I think Australia has done a great job of building the pathways. You have club teams, state programs, the Centre of Excellence, the Global Academy coming in. I know Adam Caporn really well from being at Saint Mary’s for three years, and he helped me out a lot.
“I think it is a very exciting time for Australian basketball. There will only be more Aussies in the NBA and WNBA.
“As a Boomers group, we have big expectations for ourselves and we look forward to playing with some of the kids who are currently in the lower age groups.”
Not only have the improved pathways at the junior ranks helped the growth of the game, but the Australians establishing themselves in the NBA have also made a positive influence on basketball's resurgence back home.
Just like how past Boomers were the role models for Dellavedova's generation, the torch has been passed on to Dellavedova and his peers, to inspire younger Australians not only with their on-court play, but the values they represent. Be it hard work, persistence or selflessness, Australians have over the years, steadily cultivated a sterling image as the quintessential teammate; Matthew Dellavedova himself has proven the same, at the highest levels of the NBA.
“I definitely think it does help because I know when I was growing up, I was looking up to Andrew Gaze and Shane Heal - that’s what they’re doing, I want to try and do the same,” he said.
“How do they train, reading articles, watching TV, seeing what they do because that’s what I wanted to do. Hearing stories at the AIS of past players: what did this guy do to get where he is... how did he get there?
“I hope there will be more and more Aussies coming into the NBA.
"I think the value that NBA teams are starting to see in the Aussies is we are unselfish and all about the team. That is just a part of Aussie culture and it can really help teams out over there, when there is so much money and fame on the line. To have someone who can be all about the team and not care if they’re scoring two points more over the course the season. That can bring teams closer.”
The qualities that Aussie players have been known for, have also proved vital in the rapid development of basketball’s popularity at home. The values Australian basketball represent, are being seen and appreciated all over the world.
The golden age of Australian basketball isn't quite here yet, but the sport is in a much better place than it's ever been. What a time, to be a basketball fan Down Under.