Will Exum's injury trigger a Mills return to Boomers squad?
The Boomers returned to Australia with just one win from four matches. They worked through chemistry issues that all teams face at the start of training camp, and looked to have improved significantly in their final game.
The question beckons: how will coach Lemanis handle Dante Exum's absence (left knee ACL tear) for the upcoming series?
Squaring up against Slovenia
The Australian Boomers evened up their two-game series against Slovenia with a strong defensive and long-range shooting effort to win 66-51. The victory made up for the prior 79-70 loss, in which Boston Celtics guard Zoran Dragic dominated with a 22-point performance (4/6 3PT).
Exum's injury was undoubtedly the storyline of the night, but the match itself was a tight tussle, dominated by defense until the final quarter, when the Boomers went on an 11-0 run to blow the game wide open.
Brad Newley (10 points) and Chis Goulding (12 points) were also shooting the ball well, and spreading the floor, for a side lacking a dominant post presence, with Andrew Bogut resting.
Coach Andrej Lemanis offered praise for the way in which the team improved and played as a cohesive unit.
“We showed a toughness and grittiness that will serve us well moving forward. The guys did a great job of improving on some of the areas we identified last night that we wanted to be better at.”
Patty due to return to the Boomers?
According to the Boomers' #homecoming press conference conducted earlier this morning, coach Lemanis has mentioned the possibility of Spurs guard Patty Mills as a replacement for the injured Dante Exum. He has been unable to make contact with Patty Mills as yet, but hopes to do so in the coming days.
“Anyone that we bring in will not have participated in the European tour with us, and so we just need to assess if that is what is in our best interests. Obviously [when it comes to] bringing somebody else in, Patty is a logical fit for us given he knows the Boomers. He's obviously a very good player, and so we'll just work through that process."
Coach Lemanis again, emphasized the growth of the team, along with the need to build team chemistry and culture in a foreign environment. He also mentioned the formula to success at Rio, was for the Boomers to be a team that could get "consistent quality games against quality opposition."
When asked about whether Patty would be the only candidate as Exum's replacement, and if the team would play with only eleven men otherwise, coach Lemanis replied that it would all depend on the potential impact the replacement would have on the "synergy and chemistry" the team had built so far.
"Adding a piece to [the current eleven man Boomers roster], [he] needs to obviously add value as opposed to [subtracting] value. And so again, we just need to work through that.
As you mentioned, there are some NBL guys sitting out there, there's a couple of guys that came to the University Games, they know their stuff offensively and defensively. We run the same stuff at University Games with the Boomers.
All those options, we just need to carefully work our way through them and not make any rash decisions."
The Boomers will head into the series heavy favourites having won 19 of the last 22 FIBA Oceania Championships, although veteran forward David Andersen expects a strong contest.
“Always in for a fight, no shame in saying that we both go at each other pretty hard and I’m sure this year will be no different; they have a good squad.”
Video of Boomers' press conference on 7 Aug 2015
Game one will be played at Rod Laver Arena on August 15 in front of a sold-out crowd and live national television coverage on GEM.
2015 FIBA Oceania Games - Olympic Qualifying Series
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