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Taking a trip: The dream FIBA World Cup fan experience
Always dreamed of watching the Boomers on the big stage? An Aussie group is offering fans the chance to do just that at the FIBA World Cup.
Most of us hoops fans first dreamed of playing the game we love at the highest level in the green and gold of Australia.
For almost everyone, that dream never eventuates.
But all is not lost, because there is a way you can tour a major international tournament. Instead of icing ankles and knees after a game, you can use that ice to enjoy some beverages of your choice.
Founding member of the Legion of Boom, Australian basketball’s number one supporter group (the ones always in Hawaiian shirts!), Steve Dunn is now helping organise and run supporter tours through Sportslink Travel, and their upcoming tours include a trip to the FIBA 2023 Basketball World Cup.
Dunn, who was also a part-owner and director of the Sydney Kings, has followed Australian basketball to countless tournaments, including five Olympics Games and four World Cups. Now he is eager to give other hoops fans the experience he has enjoyed so many times.
“I would love to be leading a group of a thousand Aussie basketball fans to the World Cup,” Dunn said. “And for those still thinking about it —don’t think, just do— we all missed out on seeing us medal in Tokyo and I bet you said, ‘I wished I was there’.”
These tours are also enjoyed by family and friends of the players themselves, which on the odd occasion can present incredible opportunities to interact with the stars of the game.
“We get to meet the families of players early on and then hang out with them during the tournament,” said Dunn. “At most of the events we have been lucky enough to hang out and have a drink with the players after their tournament is finished.”
The Landales, Ingles, Kays, Tolos, Baynes, Screens, and many more have all joined and been a part of tours alongside Dunn. And it’s not just the famous names that make for a great experience.
“We have also met and had a drink with plenty of other passionate basketball fans from around the world - with Lithuanian fans being my favourite,” explained Dunn.
To many, including myself, going on an overseas sports tour always seemed a little out of the realm of possibility due to expenses. However, whether you’re balling on a budget or ready to go big, there is an option for you.
You can enjoy the full tournament, or just the start or finish. You can also select from different tickets depending if you’re happy in the bleachers, or want to be as close to the action as possible.
Dunn is hoping that this customisability gives more Aussie basketball fans the chance to enjoy what is set to be an incredible tournament.
“We have different packages depending on budgets- and these are determined by the ticket categories someone chooses - as we have everyone staying in the same 4-star hotels and all packages include breakfasts, merchandise, functions, tours and transfers,” he said.
This year’s FIBA World Cup looks set to potentially be the most open international tournament that we have seen since Team USA started sending professionals to competitions.
There are expected to be at least 50 NBA players featuring in stadiums across the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia, with Australia set to boast a large chunk of that number.
Despite not even winning a medal in 2019, Team USA is bringing a team that lacks FIBA experience. The lineup is still obviously stacked with talent, with the likes of Anthony Edwards, Jaren Jackson Jr, and Tyrese Haliburton all set to take part.
Reigning champions Spain always come ready to play, however, their squad isn’t as strong as years past, meanwhile, Olympic silver medallists France will be looking to secure their third World Cup medal in a row.
Canada looks to be the team to watch, with all the big names set to play, including Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, RJ Barrett and Dillon Brooks. They are searching for their first major international men’s tournament medal since they took home silver at the 1936 Olympics.
Included in two of the three Sportslink Travel tours are tickets to both the bronze and gold medal matches, which means you’ll get to see the very best compete for the big prizes.
Of course, we’re all hoping that we get to see Patty Mills and co. standing on the podium, but if in some nightmare world they don’t make the medal games, you’ll still be treated to some incredible basketball played by elite talent.
The final phase of the tournament will be played in the Philippines, and most Aussie hoops fans will remember what happened the last time the Boomers played there.
Steve Dunn remembers better than most, because he was there.
“I was sitting with Ned Coten [then Chair of Basketball Australia] when the fight broke out,” he explained.
“I asked my son [Kyran] how he felt the next day and I’ll never forget it, ‘Geez Dad I was s*** scared but it was f****** amazing and we won’.
“I am looking forward to going back to Manila as they are basketball mad and the atmosphere they create is second to none. Let’s hope they forgive us and cheer for us in the gold medal game.”
As for the famous supporter group shirts? Don’t worry, they’ll be there.
“Absolutely [they’ll be there]. The loud yellow shirts with Aussie flags on them were first seen at the Sydney 2000 Olympics and then made a comeback at the 2016 Rio Olympics,” said Steve Dunn.
“Sportslink Travel has now taken up producing them for all our tour guests and this year we have added the names of past Boomer World Cup players on the shirt to honour the history of the team.”
If you’re interested in joining Steve Dunn and Sportslink Travel on the trip to the FIBA World Cup, or want to find out more information, head here or click on the banner below.
Disclosure: Content is sponsored by Sportslink Travel. The Pick and Roll also receives referral commission upon successful signups via this article.
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