Boomers respect Tall Blacks’ passion

12/09/2019 Posted by admin

Favourites Australia will go in with confidence, but coach Andrej Lemanis says they’ll also take plenty of respect into their Oceania basketball championship series against New Zealand.


The home-and-away tie begins in Auckland on Wednesday, with the Boomers’ 12-man roster boasting the likes of San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills and former FC Barcelona guard-forward Joe Ingles among six Olympians.

But Lemanis says his eight NBL seasons with the New Zealand Breakers taught him about the motivation levels of Kiwi players representing their country.

“I know New Zealand will play it down – `we’ve got these young kids’ – and all that,” he said.

“But I’m fully aware of the passion that they will play with and the character that’s in the group.”

The Mika Vukona-skippered Tall Blacks have four rookies in their squad and are missing high-profile names in NBA draft pick Steven Adams and experienced shooting guard Kirk Penney.

But they will go in match-hardened, having just completed an eight-game tour of China.

Lemanis was happy with his own players’ preparations during their week together.

“We come in here with confidence,” he said.

“We believe if we play well, we’re going to give ourselves a shot at winning the game.”

The return leg is in Canberra on Sunday.

With both Australia and New Zealand already headed for the world championships in Spain next year, the series is being used to help to determine seedings for that tournament.

Lemanis agrees that the scenario does take a bit of the edge off, but he has no doubts the intensity will lift at tip-off.

“Once you get on the court all that is forgotten,” he said.

“You go to practice sessions and teams are bitching about the score and the clock and `that’s a foul’, because both teams want to win. That’s the nature of the sport.”

The Auckland leg will be Lemanis’ first match back at the North Shore Events Centre since his emotional farewell to the Breakers after guiding the club to three successive Australian NBL titles.

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