The Australian Boomers are remarkably close to their next major tournament. The team needs just one more win to qualify for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which will take place across Indonesia, Japan and, predominantly, the Philippines in August next year. Victory against Kazakhstan on Saturday, November 12, will secure the Boomers’ place at a fifth straight World Cup.
The qualification campaign that has forced the Boomers program to again test the depths of men’s basketball is now nearing its close. To complete the qualification missionAustralia have called upon some of the nation’s leading local players. Reigning NBL Finals MVP, Xavier Cooks, returns to the national team for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics. Following a career best start to the NBL season, Cooks comes back in as a headliner of this Boomers side, which is again leveraging NBL-tier depth. Eight NBL players have been selected in the Boomers squad for the jaunt to Kazakhstan, with Nick Kay and Angus Brandt also joining from the Japanese B. League. Centre of Excellence (CoE) youngsters Alex Toohey and Rory Hawke have also been recalled to complete the squad.
“We have an exciting Boomers group heading to Kazakhstan for this important World Cup Qualifier,” said interim head coach, Mike Kelly, when speaking to Basketball Australia last week. “It’s great to have continuity within the team and a great mix of experience and youth. These players have been playing well in Australia and Japan recently and are ready to team up to play at the highest level for Australia.”
Continuity is one word referenced by Kelly and its importance is only matched by how rare it has been of late for the Boomers. The twelve man squad selected for Kazakhstan offers Kelly and the coaching staff some legitimate roster cohesion for the first time since Tokyo’s Olympic campaign ended. Ten players from the most recently completed Bendigo qualifying window against Iran have been recalled, including Dejan Vasiljevic, plus Perth Wildcats trio Todd Blanchfield, Mitch Norton and Luke Travers.
Consistency is a rare development in what has been a revolving door of Boomers over the past eighteen months. This is a fact Jacob Doole masterfully detailed in Septemberwhen delving into the Boomers’ (so far) undefeated qualification campaign:
Most impressively, all of that work has been done without their established stars. Of the 12-man roster that finished third at the Tokyo Olympics, only Nick Kay (five games) and Matthew Dellavedova (three games) have played in World Cup qualifiers. The Boomers have used 31 different players across eight games, with none playing in more than five.
One thing is often overlooked.