Basketball returns to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast for the first time since the Boomers won gold in Melbourne in 2006.
By David McPherson
The Melbourne Games were the first time the sport was a part of the Games schedule, and the Boomers will be strong favourites to make it two from two.
Fresh off an NBL championship, Chris Goulding will spearhead the Boomers line-up questing to continue to keep the Australian clean sweep of basketball at the Commonwealth Games.
Nathan Sobey will have to bounce back quickly from the pain of defeat after his Adelaide 36ers fell to Goulding’s Melbourne United in the NBL finals last weekend, while
his teammates Mitch Creek and Matt Hodgson have withdrawn from the tournament.
While the team is comprised of a full NBL contingent as Australia’s overseas NBA and European stars remain overseas, the current squad has a proven track record after the 2017 Asia Cup.
A similar Boomers squad beat Australia’s biggest rival New Zealand to take the title in the competition, in an important boost ahead of the Games.
Brad Newley is the only surviving member from the team that won the 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medal.
The Boomers will play their preliminary pool games in Cairns against the other top four seeded opponents, with the top two teams progressing to the semi-finals while the bottom two will take on pool B for the remaining positions.
Australia will have Nigeria, New Zealand and Canada in pool A, with the Nigerians our top-ranked opponent at number 32 in the world.
Pool B is rounded out by England, Cameroon, India and Scotland.
The New Zealand Tall Blacks pushed the Boomers to the limit in 2006 and it took some slick shooting down the stretch for the Boomers to get over the line, so Australia can expect some stiff competition from our national rivals.
A host of New Zealand Breakers will lead a strong Tall Blacks team including Tom Abercrombie, Reuben Te Rangi, Shea Ili and captain Mika Vukona.
Nigeria will also provide stiff competition with the team made up of six home-based players and six-foreign based pros.
Ike Diogu, who plays in the competitive Chinese league, will captain the side after leading the Nigerians to a successful silver medal in the 2017 Afrobasket tournament.
The Boomers’ preliminary round runs from the 6th to the 9th of April, with the finals being played on the Gold Coast from the 14th to 15th of April.