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Now it's Boomers' turn to thrive

OUR Boomers left today for Beirut and their first tilt at the FIBA Asia Cup, surely now mindful of the lessons learnt last week by the Opals.

Led brilliantly by tournament MVP Kelsey Griffin, Australia’s best swept through their intrapool, quarter-final and semi final play with a 5-0 run, winning by an average of 25.0 points per game.

One of its victims en route was the dual-defending champion Japanese who then turned the tables in the Gold Medal game to win a nail-biter 74-73.

Those across Australia expecting a cakewalk for the Oceania champs in the Asian zone were in for a sudden jolt.

Japan was once an international powerhouse. It took the Silver Medal at the 1975 FIBA World Championship behind the awesome might of the Soviet Union. (Australia’s 62-60 win over Japan at that tournament was one of the national team’s huge early successes).

Yes, it was a long time ago but make no mistake, Japan is re-emerging as an international contender and knows what it takes to be among the sport's international elite.

We also tend to overlook that China “owned” Australia for a long, long time before then Opals coach Tom Maher masterminded its downfall. (Yes, it is ironic he has been responsible for rebuilding that nation as a power.)

At FIBA Worlds in 1983 and the 1984 Olympics, China was a Bronze Medallist. At the 1992 Olympics and at the 1994 FIBA Worlds, they were Silver Medallists, with immortal centre Zheng Haixia the most dominant single force in the game.

Korea too twice has been a Silver Medallist at FIBA Worlds, and also at the 1984 Olympics.

The other factor which some may miss is that although the Opals went to Bengaluru ranked #4 in the world, China #10 and Japan #13, Australia’s ranking is based on its recent performances. That means, teams which have contained names such as Penny, Erin, Lizzie, Leilani. You know their surnames.

The main intent for the Opals – and their Oceania partners New Zealand – was to qualify for the 2018 FIBA World Cup in Spain, which required a top-four finish in India.

They did that comfortably, playing highly entertaining basketball for the most part, let down by some Final nerves and missing just too many good open looks.

{Ssh, just between us though, probably NOT winning the Asia Cup at their first attempt may have done more for Australia’s international standing in the region. I mean, the Opals coming in and just waltzing (Matilda) away with the Cup would have made something of a mockery of slotting Oceania into Asia.

This way, most everyone is happy.


And the Opals’ main goal was qualifying for Spain next year. Mission accomplished.

(The Tall Ferns didn’t do that well, finishing sixth and beaten by Chinese Taipei to close their Cup campaign.)

The Boomers open in Lebanon on Tuesday against Japan – that’s FIBA’s #10 ranked Australia versus the 48th-ranked Japanese.

On Thursday, it’s the 65-ranked Hong Kong before Saturday’s final intragroup game against Chinese Taipei.

Chinese Taipei is ranked equal 48th with Japan.

Again, remember Australia’s #10 ranking has a bit to do with its Bronze Medal playoff at the Rio Olympic Games last year and guys named Bogut, Mills, Ingles, Dellavedova, Baynes, Broekhoff, Motum, Bairstow won’t be in the green-and-gold in Beirut.

Yes, some games in the series should be lopsided in Australia’s favour.

But, unlike the women’s Asia Cup which leads directly to the Worlds, the men’s Cup leads directly to the men’s Cup.

Australia has a qualifying series to go through later to get to the 2019 FIBA World Cup so, as coach Andrej Lemanis has said, this will be a great opportunity to scout those teams.

Winning the Asia Cup is a distinct possibility, although which do you think is the more accurate ranking, the Boomers’ 10 or China’s 14?

One thing is for certain. It will be fun watching this band of Boomers brothers going through their paces and you CAN watch, once again, FOX SPORTS has come to the party.

Naismith bless them.

The draw for Australia (AEST) is:
August 8: Japan, 11pm
August 10: Hong Kong, 11pm
August 12: Chinese Taipei, 11pm
August 17: Quarter-Finals
August 19: Semi-Finals
August 20: Bronze and Gold medal games

BOOMERS: David Andersen (Melbourne United), Todd Blanchfield (Sydney Kings), Angus Brandt (Perth Wildcats), Jason Cadee (Sydney Kings), Mitch Creek (Adelaide 36ers), Cameron Gliddon (Cairns Taipans), Matthew Hodgson (Adelaide 36ers), Nick Kay (Illawarra Hawks), Daniel Kickert (Brisbane Bullets), Mitch McCarron (Cairns Taipans), Brad Newley (Sydney Kings), Mitch Norton (Illawarra Hawks).

Aug 2

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