Boomers coach lauds 'special' group

Australian coach Andrej Lemanis was delighted with the efforts of his NBL-based players.
Australian coach Andrej Lemanis was delighted with the efforts of his NBL-based players.

National team coach Andrej Lemanis heaped praise on his NBL-based Boomers squad after securing Australia's passage into the next stage of FIBA World Cup qualifying.

With Australia's crop of NBA stars unavailable to represent the Boomers during their regular season, Lemanis has guided a collection of local talent to wins in four straight qualifiers following Sunday's 88-68 result over Taiwan in Melbourne.

"It's nice to have that locked away, that's the first goal so you can tick that box," Lemanis said after the Boomers ensured a top-three finish in Group B to advance to the second round of qualifying.

Lemanis has been impressed with the progress of his squad during the second FIBA window despite last Tuesday's practice session being their first since November.

"To see where we were (on Tuesday) compared to where we are now, we've made significant improvement over the course of time," he said.

"We do have the Commonwealth Games coming up which is an opportunity for us to continue to build as a team but the short windows are certainly a challenge in terms of team synergy and application of a team philosophy."

While the expectation is that Australia's contingent of NBA players would come into the squad should the Boomers qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Lemanis hopes basketball fans appreciate the efforts of those players that are helping get them there.

"It's important that we continue to recognise the heavy lifting that has been done by this current group and we don't undervalue that," he said.

"What they are doing for basketball in this country is pretty special and needs to be rewarded."

Australia will play away in Japan and the Philippines to complete the first round of qualifying in late June with the Boomers' win-loss record carrying over to the second round.

And while Lemanis has let his overseas-based players know they are welcome to link up with the national team should they make themselves available, he has no reservations sticking with his all-NBL combination.

"We want to ensure that the (NBA guys) feel welcome but understand that it's not part of a preselection process for the World Cup," he said.

"But again, I'm really comfortable with the current group that we have and what we have built.

"There's part of me that would be excited by the challenge of continuing to build with these guys and going into those hostile environments and getting after it."

Australian Associated Press