Unlike the Opals, there will be no training camp for the Boomers in the build up to the 2015 FIBA Oceania championships against New Zealand. Instead, head coach Andrej Lemanis will select a 12-man side in June based on the best talent available; thankfully, he has a treasure trove of in-form NBA and European stars to choose from.
To ensure that Australia’s NBA and European stars are able to take part in preparations for the Olympic qualifiers that commence at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on 15 August, Lemanis made the decision to bypass on a traditional selection camp. It was a decision he was able make thanks to the commitment of six of the 7 Australian’s in the NBA, with only Joe Ingles taking a deserved break. It also for Australia’s NBA-level talent to take part in NBA Summerleague, a competition that concludes on 21 July.
“We have a tight timeframe and there is simply no time for a training camp, especially if we want our best players to play,” shared Lemanis in speaking with The Pick and Roll.
“We wanted to give our guys the best chance of making the NBA, so they can take part in the Summerleague, after which we will assemble the team together in Croatia on 22 July.”
Barring injury, Lemanis has also gained commitments for the host of Boomers starring in Europe, including 2015 Eurocup runner-up Brad Newley (Herbalife Gran Canaria), Turkish League All-Star Ryan Broekhoff (Besiktas Integral Forex Istanbul) and veteran David Andersen (ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne). A host of additional Spanish based players have also made themselves available, including Chris Goulding (CAI Zaragoza), Nathan Jawai (MoraBanc Andorra) and Aleks Maric (Herbalife Gran Canaria). US High School prodigy Ben Simmons (Montverde Academy) has ruled himself out of contention as he focuses on making the transition to Louisiana State University.
Selecting a team without a training camp has not been commonplace for the Boomers. However Lemanis was confident that he will have the best possible team at his disposal for the 2-game series against New Zealand.
“In putting together the team, we are taking into account previous contributions (to the Boomers program), recent form, injuries, and looking at specific potential match-ups with our opponent (New Zealand),” explained Lemanis.
“We are all meeting up in Croatia. So the guys that take part in the NBA Summerleague will head straight there. We will then train for 5 days before heading to Lithuania where we start playing games.”
The Boomers will first take on Lithuania on 29 and 31 July (source), a team that is ranked number 4 in the world according to FIBA, and a side the Boomers defeated at the 2014 FIBA World Cup. Lemanis then takes his team to Slovenia who are ranked 13th in the world for consecutive games on August 3 and 4. Slovenia proved a handful for the Boomers at last year’s World Cup, with NBA star Goran Dragic guiding the rising European power to a win. After their four games in Europe, the Boomers then head to back to Australia for final preparations ahead of the series against New Zealand.
As a long-time coach of the New Zealand Breakers, there is no one better in Australian basketball to prepare the Boomers for the FIBA Oceania series. Lemanis is well aware of the Tall Blacks strengths and weaknesses.
“New Zealand shoot the ball well, especially the three-ball,” outlined Lemanis.
“Like us, they play with a lot of emotion and camaraderie. They always lift when they play on the world stage.”
For Lemanis, the series in Europe provides a chance for integrating any new players that may join a core group that were part of the 2014 FIBA World Cup campaign. That group includes current NBA based players Patty Mills (San Antonio), Aron Baynes (San Antonio), Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland), Dante Exum (Utah) and Cameron Bairstow (Chicago). They were accompanied by European based Newley, Broekhoff, Andersen, Goulding and Jawai. With Ingles ruling himself out, that leaves only two NBL based players in Adam Gibson and Brock Motum from that 2014 team who would be hoping for inclusion.
If Bogut remains healthy and Baynes remains fit, Lemanis has a wealth of quality big men at his disposal. While Jawai’s inclusion in 2014 was controversial, he has found himself in good form recently while fellow big man Maric has been enjoying a chance to rediscover his touch alongside Newley at Gran Canaria. With Andersen turning back the clock in France and Motum dominating in the NBL, one of those three may be left on the outer when the final team is named – especially if New Zealand is going to be without Steve Adams (Oklahoma City) as rumoured.
With Dellevedova taking his game to new levels with the Cavaliers, Mills getting back to form in the latter half of the season and Exum emerging with the Jazz, Lemanis will need to consider whether he still needs Gibson or whether he goes with someone else.
Lemanis does have a chance to consider an emerging number of stars as he first takes the reigns of the World University Games team that will compete in South Korea from 3-11 July. US college star Hugh Greenwood (New Mexico) who has been a long-time Boomers squad member, may well come into consideration in much the same way as his fellow Lobos team-mate Cameron Bairstow did in 2013.
All eyes will be on the names that Basketball Australia release in late June; between now and then, there are no Boomers training camps.