Boomers into second round - USA waiting - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Boomers into second round - USA waiting

By James Dampney 25/08/2006 05:54:24 AM Comments (0)

Coach Brian Goorjian was baffled when Australia was drawn in the so-called 'group of death' for the men's basketball world championship, but the Boomers can now celebrate achieving their goal of qualifying for the second round.

When Australia claimed last year's Oceania qualifying series against New Zealand 3-0, it was also supposed to be rewarded with the region's top seeding.

But the Tall Blacks emerged from the draw earlier this year with minnows Panama, Japan and Angola in their group, along with Spain and Germany, while Australia was handed Greece, Lithuania, Brazil and Turkey, to go with unheralded Qatar.

It was an enormous ask for the grossly inexperienced Boomers to reach the second round, with a host of top players missing, including Matt Nielsen, Chris Anstey and Glen Saville.

It meant international rookies such as David Barlow, Russell Hinder and Aaron Bruce were suddenly thrust into the world championship arena ahead of time.

But the team fought through the five group games with two wins, over Brazil and Qatar, and now has a date with the United States on Sunday in Saitama.

"I have respect for everyone here," Goorjian said of his group opponents.

"We lost to New Zealand (in this year's series) and they then went to play Brazil and got beaten in four straight games.

"Coming in here Brazil played the USA tough and we're thinking it would be an outside chance to get Brazil.

"You've got Lithuania in this pool, Greece the European champion, the America's champion (Brazil), the Oceania champion, I don't know who put it together but they didn't do us any favours.

"We played Turkey tough, we played Greece tough, we played Qatar tough, we played Brazil tough, we came here and did our work."

That work has led to a new level of experience for the green and gold outfit, which now has a bright future heading into the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

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