Written for nbl.com.au by Liam Santamaria
Brisbane Bullets guard Cameron Gliddon has described making the Boomers team for the 2019 World Cup as a dream come true and has hit back at suggestions that bias towards Brisbane players influenced selection.
Gliddon was one of five NBL players picked by Boomers head coach Andrej Lemanis and his staff, with newly-signed Brisbane teammate Nathan Sobey also making the team.
The 12-man line-up announced yesterday included a trio of surprises, with South East Melbourne Phoenix star Mitch Creek, versatile wing Deng Adel and Rio Olympian Brock Motum all overlooked, seemingly in favour of Gliddon, Perth star Nick Kay and talented youngster Xavier Cooks.
Lemanis stressed to media on Wednesday that he and his staff had not selected an “all-star team” but rather a team made up of a certain mix of skill-sets that will, hopefully, complement each other in the heat of World Cup battle.
That approach clearly opened the door for Gliddon, who played well for Australia during the qualifying phase and is a renowned three-point marksman, to make the team.
“It’s a dream come true,” Gliddon told NBL Media during a phone interview.
“People say that putting on the green and gold brings about the proudest moments in their careers and that’s one hundred percent true for me.”
Speaking from his home in Queensland, Gliddon explained that being selected had left him feeling overjoyed and described his excitement about pulling on a Boomers jersey at a major international tournament.
“I don’t make ten million dollars a year, I’m so privileged to be in the NBL with the Brisbane Bullets and everything I’ve been able to do, but when you put on the green and gold with all the guys, it’s just something different,” he said.
“You play your best basketball because you go to another level. You have the best time because you’re with your best mates and you’re all in it together. It’s just the best of everything: the best on-court experiences, the best off-court experiences.
“And, I mean, we’re going to the World Cup to play against the best teams. It really is a dream come true.”
When Gliddon walked into his selection meeting on Tuesday and heard the word ‘Congratulations’, the hardworking guard put his head in his hands and “kind of blacked out.”
“I just took a moment to collect myself,” he said.
“This is the best feeling I’ve had, basketball-wise, and I’m rapt to be a part of it. I’m just looking forward to everything that’s going to come with it.”
A hamstring issue kept Gliddon off the court for the opening two days of the camp. He eventually made it on court, however, and when he did, his play during the final couple of sessions – particularly his knockdown perimeter shooting – caught the eye of selectors.
“It was eating him up inside because he thought he’d missed his opportunity,” Lemanis said.
“But he came in on day three and four and went whack, whack, whack, whack, whack and it was a perfect example of exactly what we wanted from that role.
“You’ve got a spot there where you might not play in game one or game two and in game three you need to come out and be able to put the ball in the basket when we need it.
“He showed that he could do exactly that and it was a pretty easy choice after that.”
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
Of course, the fact that Gliddon and Sobey – the projected starting backcourt for Lemanis’ Brisbane Bullets team this season – were both selected has caused many to claim that bias played a role in constructing the team.
Unsurprisingly, Gliddon feels those criticisms are off the mark.
“Someone who had a really good camp and really showed out was (Brisbane guard) Jason Cadee and he got cut,” Gliddon offered.
“When I was in the Olympic tryouts (in 2016), someone who played a huge role in those tryouts was ‘Gibbo’ (former Bullets guard Adam Gibson) and he got cut.
“I knew that it would make me feel good to have all the coaches saying, ‘We have all put in to select you.’ I can’t speak for Sobey but I can almost guarantee it would be the same because he also had a great camp… but the first thing that Luc (assistant coach Luc Longley) said to me in my meeting was that every coach had put together a 12-man team and I was on every one. That made me feel better.”
Gliddon admitted that Lemanis’ familiarity with his game would not have hurt his chances of being selected but was forthright in his view that he earned his spot with his play at the camp.
“Obviously Drej knows me better than anyone else in that coaching staff and probably most of the players as well, because I’ve just played a year for him. He knows what I can do,” Gliddon said.
“That probably helped me get to the camp but I definitely had to win my way in at the camp and I know I did that.
“I can hang my hat on that. People can say what they need to say but if they were at the camp and saw how everything worked, I feel comfortable with my performance.
“If I didn’t make this team I definitely would’ve been disappointed with not making it because I thought I performed.”
The Boomers will play warm-up games against Canada and USA this month before tipping off their World Cup schedule on September 1 (AEST).