Melbourne – An emotional Boomers head coach, Andrej Lemanis, fought back tears as he detailed the agonising selection decisions that resulted in some very unlucky omissions from the final 12-man roster announced earlier this morning.
The NBL will be heavily represented in China, with Andrew Bogut [Sydney], Cameron Gliddon [Brisbane], Nathan Sobey [Brisbane], Chris Goulding [Melbourne] and Nick Kay [Perth], making the final cut.
Jock Landale [Lithuania] and Xavier Cooks [France] are the other two non-NBA selections, while Matthew Dellavedova [Cleveland], Patty Mills [San Antonio], Joe Ingles [Utah], Aron Baynes [Phoenix] and Jonah Bolden [Philadelphia] make up the squad.
The final roster cut was made at the conclusion of a six-day training camp in Melbourne.
“You come into the selection camp with an idea of how you might think it will play out but there’s always really, really, pleasant surprises and that’s the exciting part but the flip of it is as a coach, the worst thing, the hardest part is sitting down with a player who’s given everything he’s got and bleeds green and gold and you have to tell them, ‘I’m sorry, but you’ve missed selection for the team’,” Lemanis said from Crown Metropol in Melbourne.
“That’s heartbreaking and what makes it particularly difficult is the fact that we have tremendous depth of talent in Australia so often the communication to the players that have missed is that I don’t have a lot more, I just have to make a decision.”
— NBL (@NBL) August 7, 2019
The biggest name to miss selection was South East Melbourne Phoenix star and Boomers veteran, Mitch Creek.
“I talk about those tough conversations, that’s as heartbreaking as any of them,” Lemanis revealed.
“For the road and journey we’ve been through with Creeky and his commitment through the World Cup qualification process, it was a really tough decision but at the end of the day with the skillsets we are looking for and the way he was going to play in this group in the three spot, I guess we just made decisions with other guys who might help us a little bit more in the way it will benefit the team. As I say, good players miss out, that’s the way that it is.”
— NBL (@NBL) August 7, 2019
Lemanis hinted to Gliddon’s outside shooting as a key factor in his selection, revealing that the Bullets star was at one stage in doubt, entering camp with a minor hamstring complaint.
“It was a strange one, maybe Glidds was playing all of us,” Lemanis said with a laugh.
“He came in with a bit of a hamstring and missed practice the first two days and it was actually eating him up because he missed his opportunity but then he came in day three and four and went whack, whack, whack, whack, and it was a perfect example of what we want from that role.”
The Glidd was ? in the Boomers selection camp ? making it an easy choice for the coaches to include him in the final @BasketballAus Boomers World Cup squad.@CammyGliddon #NBL20 pic.twitter.com/MygayVcZuj
— NBL (@NBL) August 7, 2019
One constant throughout camp was the glowing praise for Nick Kay, who gave the selectors no option but to include his name in the squad. Praising his basketball IQ and selflessness on the offensive end, Lemanis had ran out of superlatives for the Wildcats big man by the time he had moved on to the defensive side of the ball.
“On the defensive end, if you had a model of what Andrej Lemanis likes from the four spot from a disruptive defender, in the dictionary there’s a picture of Nick Kay next to it.”
The strong NBL presence in the squad is key indication to the rising standard of the local competition, with Lemanis becoming visibly emotional when acknowledging the efforts of the players that helped the Boomers navigate through World Cup qualification.
“It is a reflection of where the NBL is right now and I think it also reflects, and perhaps this is an appropriate time to acknowledge the efforts of all the guys who went through the World Cup qualification process that enabled us to be here today and gives us an opportunity to compete in the World Cup.”
“There’s a lot of players that put in a lot of effort, sacrificed, came in, played the right way, played for their country, conducted themselves immaculately as humans and represented their country in spectacular fashion.”
“Some of them didn’t even get the chance to come to selection camp and there’s a lot who went through the selection process and have now missed out. To a man, it makes it special when they say I’m in the green and gold and it’s the best thing I ever did, so they’re all really grateful for the opportunities they get and that’s, I’m just humbled, I’m always humbled to be around [the group], it’s a privilege.”
Jock Landale is one of the newer faces in Boomers squad, with the 23-year-old unable to hide his smile as he described the moment he found out he made the roster.
“When these guys broke the news to me it was pretty special.”
“I was actually with one of my mates and Luc [Longley] came up to my room and just told me they were going to take me and it was pretty emotional, I had a bit of a teary after Luc left because I get a little tough around the coaches,” he said with a laugh.
Lemanis baulked at comparing this Boomers squad to previous versions, suggesting comparisons are not a useful tool, before stating in no uncertain terms what the Boomers will have their sights on when their World Cup campaign tips-off on September 1 against Canada.
“If you place it on players with NBA championship rings or guys playing quality minutes in the NBA, it’s perhaps as good a team as we’ve ever had from that perspective. But as a group in terms what our expectations are of ourselves, is that we are there to win a gold medal, that’s clearly and simply our goal. There’s a focus on that, there’s a drive behind it.”