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Boomers united in Melbourne

AMAZING how it has worked out but only regular season champion Melbourne United will be almost unaffected by the current FIBA World Cup Asian Zone qualifying window ahead of the NBL playoffs.

Adelaide, Perth and New Zealand all are impacted to varying degrees ahead of the semis, which tip off on March 3.

With four-time Olympian David Andersen just returning from injury, the Melbourne frontcourt star was not considered for selection for matches against the Philippines tomorrow and on Sunday against Chinese Taipei at Margaret Court Arena.

Fellow Rio Olympian and United teammate Chris Goulding was, but rolled his ankle in Melbourne's last game against Illawarra to be replaced by Hawks guard Mitch Norton.

With no Boomers representation, it means Melbourne can focus on its semi final series against sometime nemesis New Zealand, with Breakers such as Finn Delany, Alex Pledger, Rob Loe, Shea Ili, Jordan Ngatai on Tall Blacks duty.

That is where Melbourne IS down one player, with improving benchman Tohi Milner-Smith also on the New Zealand team facing world No.24-ranked China in Dongguan on Saturday morning and 35th-ranked South Korea in Seoul three days later.

It will be a tough ask for Paul Henare's team which is down star forwards Mika Vukona, who is being rested, and Tom Abercrombie, whose wife is expecting to give birth to their second child any day.

Australia, holder of the FIBA Asia Cup as champion of this region (flashback below), had the option to alter its line-up after the game against the pootentially dangerous Philippines but has opted not to do it.

Japan was expected to finish second in Group B behind the Aussies but was upset 77-71 by the Filipinos in the first FIBA qualifying window.

The Boomers smacked Japan 82-58 in Adelaide but will take no chances against the Philippines.

Against Chinese Taipei though, coach Andrej Lemanis easily could have afforded to alter his line-up and release playoff-bound personnel in favour of other squadmen such as Brad Newley and Todd Blanchfield who have no finals appointments.

Australia beat Chinese Taipei by 40 at the Asia Cup and by 38 in Taiwan in the first FIBA window so should not experience too much angst in Melbourne.

For those who cannot get to the internationals, the action will be live and in HD on FOXSPORTS, with no ad breaks during play and tip-off tomorrow at 7.20pm EDT.

Sunday's game tips off at 2.50pm EDT.

HAD a blast doing the Rucker Podcast (Episode 24) with NBL MVP Derek Rucker yesterday. If you want to check it out, go here.

Feb 21

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