Boomers enjoying home feeling
THE opportunity and significance of playing a major tournament on home soil is not lost on coach Andrej Lemanis and his current crop of Australian Boomers.
Lemanis, who doubles as Brisbane Bullets coach in the National Basketball League, and the majority of his Commonwealth Games squad landed in Cairns on Saturday afternoon to prepare for their three pool games in the far north of Queensland.
The majority of the Boomers' success and growth over the past two years has been broadcast in the middle of the night for most Australians, with their games usually played on the other side of the world.
The Lemanis-coached Boomers won the first Australian senior men's FIBA gold medal at the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon in August of last year, and while the green and gold just missed a medal at the Rio Olympics, the fourth-place finish was seen as a sign of positive things to come from the emerging group.
The NBA stars who featured in Rio, such as Andrew Bogut and Patty Mills, are not in camp this time, but the NBL-based squad is tipped to claim the gold on the Gold Coast.
Australia won gold in both the men's and women's basketball at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and Lemanis can feel the drive in his playing group to replicate that on the Gold Coast.
Boomers veteran Brad Newley, who wore the green and gold in Melbourne, has been the experienced voice behind the new wave of Boomers, according to Lemanis.
"We spoke about it while playing at the FIBA Asia Cup, the opportunity we have to push through and play at the Commonwealth Games in Australia," Lemanis said.
"We spoke about what that would mean as a team and for individuals.
"From that moment, the group committed themselves to being available for the Commonwealth Games.
"Brad Newley, who participated in the Melbourne one, spoke to the excitement and feeling they got from participating in a home Commonwealth Games and the way they (the players) spoke was powerful and emotive.
"We look forward to having that same kind of experience in front of our home fans and country."
Chris Goulding, Matt Hodgson and Nathan Sobey, who on Saturday night played in game five of the NBL Grand Final series, will join the camp in Cairns on Tuesday.
Mitch Creek pulled out of the Australian squad on Sunday night.
The Boomers open their campaign on Friday afternoon against Canada before facing New Zealand on Saturday, with that game tipped to be a preview of the gold medal match.
Head coach: Andrej Lemanis
Angus Brandt, Jason Cadee, Cameron Gliddon, Chris Goulding, Matt Hodgson, Nick Kay, Daniel Kickert, Damian Martin, Brad Newley, Nathan Sobey and
MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Thursday, April 5, Townsville
5.30pm England v Scotland
8pm Cameroon v India
Friday, April 6, Cairns
5.30pm Australia v Canada
8pm Nigeria v New Zealand