The Australian Boomers have been bolstered with big inclusions to the squad that will hit the court for the next stage of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers later this month.
The mix of the 12 players selected for the upcoming games consists of some familiar faces plus four debutants who will put on the green and gold.
The Boomers have been a dominant force so far as they work towards the 2023 FIBA World Cup. As the clock winds down to Australia’s match-ups against Bahrain and Iran on August 25th and 29th, the 12 players announced are set to take on the challenge.
The 12-men squad
Mitch McCarron and Sam Froling will return for a third campaign with the Boomers within the last three months. Their return to the squad comes off the back of Australia’s gold medal win in the 2022 FIBA Asia Cup where it defeated Lebanon to defend its title.
After leading the side as captain in the second World Cup qualifying window against Japan and Chinese Taipei, Nick Kay will again suit up in the green and gold, joining him are Angus Brandt and Rhys Vague.
Luke Travers and Dejan Vasiljevic’s call-up to the squad marks the first time that they will play for the Boomers. Centre of Excellence graduates Alex Toohey and Rory Hawke are the other two debutants to make the squad.
Meanwhile, rounding out the 12 is Illawarra Hawks guard Alex Mudronja and Perth Wildcats teammates Todd Blanchfield and Mitch Norton.
With the final team dropping this week, there are noticeable names missing from the 12-men squad with several names from the FIBA Asia Cup gold medal-winning team and prior qualifiers not included in the squad.
The omission of such names is not due to anything related to performance, but rather the long list of talent that is up for selection. The rotation of players seen through the Boomers’ side is a testament to the development of Australian basketballers coming through the ranks.
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What the 12 players bring to the squad
A quick glimpse at the names announced will no doubt bring much anticipation for the upcoming games.
Coming off the back of an impressive Asia Cup campaign, Mitch McCarron is looking to continue his dominance once again. Overall, McCarron averaged 8.8 points, 5.5 assists, four rebounds, and just under two steals per game during the campaign.
Also looking to continue their great form from the Asia Cup will be Sam Froling and Rhys Vague. Froling averaged 10.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Whilst Vague averaged 8.8 points and was lethal from three-point range, shooting 46.4 per cent per game.
Nick Kay brings with him a wealth of experience and leadership. The former Perth Wildcat was an integral part of the squad that won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, while he also captained the team in February’s World Cup qualifiers in Japan.
The 30-year-old has proven to be a powerhouse when it comes to the defence side of the ball, which will be beneficial to the team. During his stint with Shimane Susanoo Magic in Japan, he ranked second for rebounds and third for assists among his teammates. In 56 games, Kay averaged 13.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.4 steals per game during the regular season.
Alex Mudronja will don the green and gold for a second time following his appearance at the beginning of the year at the previous World Cup qualifiers. His prior performance consistently saw him named as one of the Boomers’ top performers.
The 22-year-old averaged 9.7 points during the February campaign. His best performance from that campaign came in Australia’s first game against Chinese Taipei, where he recorded 13 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals.
Former Sydney King and Perth Wildcats big man Angus Brandt will enter the squad following his stint playing in the Japanese B.League division two with the Kagawa Five Arrows. Brandt can contribute to the scoreboard nicely and is highly efficient when on the court, he has also proven on many occasions to be a serviceable player when representing the Boomers.
Forward Todd Blanchfield will suit up for Australia. The Perth Wildcat impressed in the NBL during the recent season, averaging 10.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
Another Wildcat Mitch Norton will be making his first appearance in the Boomers squad since 2019. The latest NBL season saw him average 9.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 3.6 assists.
Norton will be a great asset among Australia’s guard depth, with his defensive pressure. His persistence on the defensive end helped Australia claim gold at both the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup and the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Luke Travers can now add another accomplishment to the long list he has already amassed.
The 20-year-old is in good strides to make his debut for the Boomers later this month, proving that he has the athleticism after his recent campaign in the NBL. He also showed off his potential during the recent Summer League in Las Vegas, averaging 6.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.2 blocks across the five games.
Dejan Vasiljevic will be looking to make a strong impact for the Boomers following his run during the recent Summer League that garnered attention.
The 25-year-old also once again dazzled in the NBL, averaging 12.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. His presence in the team will no doubt help the side as the first-time Boomer is known for his sharp accuracy from three-point range which will cause trouble for opposing defences.
Perhaps an unfamiliar name to many for now, Alex Toohey comes into the side after recently appearing in the NBL1 competition for the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence side. The 18-year-old is a sharpshooter who plays with poise and will be one to watch during this campaign.
Similar to Toohey, Rory Hawke was also involved in the NBL1 this year with the Centre of Excellence and is another basketball prospect that’ll be one to watch. He’s demonstrated versatility that has seen him thrive at both ends of the court.
Expectations heading into the fourth window
It’s an interesting team comprised of veterans and new faces.
Questions remain to be seen on how the team will play together given that there are quite a few fresh names included in the line-up. Though the playing list is stacked with talent that has experience from across different leagues – both nationally and internationally.
With this group of 12 apart of the Boomer’s roadmap to the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the next upcoming matches in Bahrain and then in Bendigo will make for thrilling viewing.
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