If most of the usual suspects are absent, is Australia’s national men’s basketball squad still the Boomers?
Apparently so, as the team is preparing for their qualification matches for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup tournament that begins with a game agasint New Zealand’s Tall Blacks on 20 February 2020.
It seems very much a play-whoever-turns-out affair, as Boomers representatives who play in the NBA or any of those who work for European leagues will be busy honouring their club commitments.
The Boomers will rely on the players from the NBL. The NBL regular season concludes 16 February and the post-season will be during March, so there could well be some NBL players still unavailable for Boomers duty, but the scenario is logistically simpler, as the game with New Zealand on the 20th is in Brisbane.
The FIBA Asia Cup has initiated qualifying games for the first time.
The Boomers are drawn in Group C, along with Guam, Hong Kong and the Tall Blacks.
Each team will play the other twice, home-and-away style. The Boomers’ games with New Zealand are spread over a year’s time. After the game in February, the next is not until November, by which time the NBL and the NBA will both be back for regular season play.
The last qualifying window will be in February of 2021.
The Boomers have not competed since the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
In making the announcement of the dates for the qualifiers, Basketball Australia CEO Jerril Rechter described the Boomers’ fourth place result in China as courageous, which we suppose is better than a cowardly third, but for the absence of a bronze medal.
The Boomers have some fine feathers to display, with recent victories over the USA and France and they are the reigning Asia Cup champions, prompting Rechter to say, “Australia is excited to start the defence of our FIBA Asia Cup title in Brisbane, a city and state that is passionate about basketball.”
The FIBA Asia Cup will be contested by 16 qualifying teams. The last tournament was in 2017.
From a look at the list that participated in 2017, it would seem that the primary threat to a successful Australia title defense is China. Australia’s 2017 squad was made up exclusively of NBL players.