There are great expectations of a Boomers, Opals gold medal repeat in April’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Gold is what they brought home in 2006, the last time basketball was played in the Commonwealth in Melbourne.
New Zealand and Canada pose the biggest threat to an Aussie sweep, but the quality of the Australian squads is such that they are heavy favourites. A clearer picture will emerge when preliminary pool matches are played in Townsville and Cairns.
The Opals are well stocked with talent, featuring players with plenty of experience at all levels, including Elizabeth Cambage, Cayla George, Jenna O’Hea and Belinda Small, who was there in 2006 for the Opals gold in Melbourne.
Even without the pros from the NBA and European professional leagues, the Boomers should have a more than adequate pool of talent from the NBL. The Boomers were winners of 10 and losers of none, outscoring opponents by an average of almost 30 points per game in last year’s FIBA Asia Cup.
Like the Opals, the Boomers will have a veteran of 2006 on the squad, swingman Brad Newley. They will also get valuable service from Rio Olympians Chris Goulding and Damian Martin. For those whose memories do not extend back to Rio and 2016, the Boomers nearly took the top prize. Cam Gliddon and Daniel Rickert will provide steady service as well.
Kevin Lisch of the Sydney Kings withdrew due to an ankle injury.
Men’s Coach Andrej Lemanis told The Courier Mail that he and his side would not be distracted by the favourites tag.
“It means we go in with a good level of confidence but it doesn’t change anything in terms of how we prepare. We will still need to focus on us and be the best team we can be.”
Many of the players on the Boomers squad have experience playing together, so this is not some ad-hoc assortment of players who were selected for having the right sneaker size.