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Step 1 to World Cup done


AUSTRALIA's NBL-based Boomers will face Japan, the Philippines and Chinese Taipei in the first round of Asian Group qualifiers ahead of FIBA's 2019 World Cup in China.

Just not necessarily.

The Philippines and Chinese Taipei still have to qualify to play the qualifiers via the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon in August, or forfeit their Group B status to two other qualifiers.

So that's Australia's group, tentatively and possibly subject to change.

The Groups to contest the first round of Asian qualifying matches from the FIBA draw overnight in Guangzhou, China, are:

Group A: New Zealand, China, Korea, Hong Kong

Group B: Australia, Japan, Philippines, Chinese Taipei

Group C: Syria, Jordan, India, Lebanon

Group D: Iraq, Iran, Qatar, Kazakhstan

The Boomers must finish top-three in the group to advance to the second round to face the top three nations from a rival group.

Ultimately the top seven countries will join China, the automatically qualified host of the 2019 FIBA World Cup, as Asia's qualifiers.

FIBA additionally did the draw for the African, American and European qualifying groups.

Qualifiers tip off in November for the right to be one of the 31 countries joining China for the four-yearly World Cup.

The NBL will work with Basketball Australia to ensure minimal disruption to the league schedule when the Boomers have to play in November and February, with the third window for qualifiers in June.

From left: Yi Jianlian (China), Scottie Pippen (USA), Andrew Gaze (Aus) and Andrei Kirilenko (Rus).

The four FIBA international greats pictured were on hand to make the draw, Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis now tasked with developing an Australian team which can do the "heavy lifting" to qualify before NBA players such as Patty Mills, Andrew Bogut (currently injured), Joe Ingles, Matthew Dellavedova, Aron Baynes, Dante Exum, Thon Maker, Ben Simmons and Euro-based candidates such as Ryan Broekhoff and Brock Motum become available for the prestige event.

Rio Olympians David Andersen, Cam Bairstow, Chris Goulding, Kevin Lisch and Damian Martin are obvious candidates for Lemanis' Boomers squad, along with past Olympians or Aussie internationals such as Brad Newley, Nathan Jawai, Aleks Maric, Adam Gibson, Cam Gliddon, Daniel Kickert, and burgeoning NBL talents such as Mitch Norton, Nick Kay and AJ Ogilvy from Illawarra;'s runner up, Nathan Sobey, Daniel Johnson, Mitch Creek and Matt Hodgson from Adelaide's regular season champ, Todd Blanchfield and unsung Wildcat Jesse Wagstaff.

Japan will not be any pushover, 2016 NBL Coach of the Year, Shawn Dennis, dual-championship winner Al Westover and Tom Wisman among past league bosses who have coached there.

The goal, of course, is to get to the World Cup, FIBA's new FIFA-style qualifying format giving countries a chance to see their national teams in regular meaningful action on home soil.

Basketball's ultimate prize is made almost entirely of gold, featuring an honour roll of past world champions.

It also features a golden hoop in which "Federation Internationale de Basketball Amateur" - FIBA's original name - is inscribed, a mark identifying it as the official trophy.

New Zealand's Tall Blacks will have a rougher road, having to get past China and Korea, Hong Kong provisionally in the group but also yet to formally qualify. Intragroup results carry into the second stage when the pool's top-three advance.

May 8

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.