Running July 21 through August 5, the European tour will see the Boomers play Slovenia and Lithuania in all-important warm-up matches before the team returns home to Australia. Once in Melbourne, the Boomers will play the first leg of the 2015 FIBA Oceania Championships against the New Zealand Tall Blacks at Rod Laver Arena in front of what is expected to be a sold-out crowd and a live free-to-air audience on the Nine Network. The second leg takes place in Wellington, with the series decided by games won, or if tied by aggregate of total points. The winner will earn automatic qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The twelve-man Australian Boomers team consists of: David Andersen, Cameron Bairstow, newly-crowned NBA Championship winner Andrew Bogut, Ryan Broekhoff, Matthew Dellavedova, Dante Exum, Adam Gibson, Chris Goulding, Nate Jawai, Damian Martin, Brock Motum and Brad Newley.
The games will mark Bogut’s first appearance for the Boomers since the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and the Rod Laver Arena match will be his first on Australian soil since 2006.
Bogut’s NBA Finals rival, Dellavedova returns to Australia having captured the general public’s imagination with his tenacity for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“It’s an indication of the continued growth of Australian basketball on the world stage,” said Australian Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis.
“Every team is only as strong as they are as a unit. The rest of the guys have had good seasons in their respective programs and continued to develop and grow. It’s the overall strength of the team that will serve us well.”
Although four of the seven representatives from the NBA will be on hand, Patty Mills, Aron Baynes and Joe Ingles will be missing from the team.
While Mills is available for the Oceania Championships, he is not available for the European tour due to a number of factors. There have been concerns over his shoulder injury last year which required surgery and intense rehabilitation. He continues to have specialised rehab and training, to regain 100% health with his shoulder. This decision between Mills and the San Antonio Spurs meant that he would not be available for the European Tour.
Accordingly he has been omitted from the team for the European tour and the Oceania Championships against New Zealand.
“We are obviously disappointed that Patty can’t join us on the European Tour, and as a result, has been omitted from the team for this campaign, but we understand and respect his position,” said Lemanis.
“As difficult as it is for us to leave Patty out of the team, at the start of our planning for this Rio qualification, the coaching staff agreed that it is vital that we undertake preparations for the Oceania Championships as a team to better understand how, as a group, we can embark on a successful campaign in Rio. The tour to Europe, playing against quality opposition, is critical in our preparations to beat New Zealand in August.
“Patty has a proud and passionate commitment to the Australian Boomers and I’m looking forward to working with him, Joe and Aron in our determined push for a long-awaited medal at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.”
Aron Baynes, having just yesterday formally agreed to terms with the Detroit Pistons, has been forced to sit out of the Boomers’ games due to recent surgery on his ankle.
“I'm very disappointed to be missing out on the upcoming series against the Tall Blacks,” Baynes said. “My priority is ensuring that I am 100% healthy for the Olympics next year, so I made the tough decision to get my ankle cleaned out this off season.
“Any chance to pull on the green and gold is something I cherish, so whilst I'm unable to play, I will be supporting the fellas throughout the campaign. Andrej has been great and I have no doubt the boys will do the country proud and get the job done.”
As previously reported in March, Joe Ingles will miss Boomers’ duty having made the difficult decision to rest after an arduous first season in the NBA with the Utah Jazz.
Ticket sales for the match continue to illustrate the demand for basketball with under 2000 tickets now available for the double header at Rod Laver Arena on August 15, where the Jayco Australian Opals will play the New Zealand Tall Ferns ahead of the Boomers’ clash with the Tall Blacks.
Lemanis urged Australian fans to get behind their team for the all-important match, saying there was nothing like being at the venue to be a part of the action.
“You will see a group that’s prepared to play together, to play for one another,” he said. “The team’s going to be a disruptive defensive outfit and hopefully cause some issues with the way we play.
Offensively we’re a team that’s prepared to share the ball, put some heat on the rim and play for the good of our teammates. For basketball fans, there’s plenty to be excited about.”
2015 Australian Boomers international schedule:
July 29 v Lithuania - Klaipeda
July 31 v Lithuania - Siauliai
August 3 v Slovenia - Ljubljana
August 4 v Slovenia - Ljubljana
August 15 v New Zealand - Melbourne
August 18 v New Zealand - Wellington