Giannis Antetokounmpo makes Greece a major player in China.
Giannis Antetokounmpo makes Greece a major player in China.

Boomers star warns Cup rivals no pushovers

IF you thought the most talented Australian Boomers team in history is guaranteed a medal at this year's World Cup, Andrew Bogut says think again. For all the hype, the big man is also a realist.

Of course our veteran big man is brimming with confidence heading into the August tournament in China - based on the strength of the Boomers' line-up.

Nine NBA players - including reigning rookie of the year Ben Simmons - are in the formidable 17-man Cup squad.

Throw in a select group of NBL and European-based players - and the Boomers have understandably been hailed a serious contender.

For all the hype, Bogut is also a realist.

The Boomers are yet to win a major world basketball medal and there's an army of countries loaded up and standing between Australia's men and a maiden podium finish.

The likes of Spain, France, Canada and Serbia are all armed with NBA talent and big game experience.

It's why Bogut knows the Boomers will have to produce their best basketball to achieve success at the World Cup.

Ben Simmons will line up for the Boomers.
Ben Simmons will line up for the Boomers.

"A lot of people will think, 'oh Australia are a shoe-in for a medal' but only if it was that simple," Bogut said.

"As good as our roster is on paper, we've done jack s*** in the world from the aspect of competing at the Olympics and World Championships.

"Fourth has been our best result, so we have a lot to prove and a lot to do still because we haven't really done anything.

"There are the likes of France, Spain and Serbia and Croatia are always up there.

"Then there Lithuania and Russia did reasonably well in the last tournament.

Stephen Curry is expected to spearhead the US title assault.
Stephen Curry is expected to spearhead the US title assault.

"Then you count in the USA, Argentina and Brazil, and it is the closest it has ever been in the world in my opinion."

By no means is Bogut discounting the Australians.

He rates the current star-studded Boomers squad the most gifted we've ever seen on paper.

"But as far as being best team - I don't like that because we haven't done anything," he said.

"Until someone gets that elusive medal, then they will be the best group we've had.

Andrew Bogut says the Boomers can’t get ahead of themselves.
Andrew Bogut says the Boomers can’t get ahead of themselves.

"I've seen numerous talented rosters, whether professional or national teams, not get the goods because they were a talented group of individuals.

"So we need to make sure that is not us."

The Boomers will be put to the test right from the start, with Canada, Lithuania and Senegal in their group, which has been hailed the Cup's 'group of death'.

Should Australia finish in the top two, they will progress to the second round where they will take on the two best from Group G - which consists of the Dominican Republic, France, Germany and Jordan.

Bogut rates the Canadians as a major threat, especially if all their NBA stars like Tristan Thompson and Andrew Wiggins take the court.

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic helps make Serbia a dangerous proposition.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic helps make Serbia a dangerous proposition.

"I'm not sure everyone will play for them but if they do get their full squad of Canadians playing in the NBA, they are arguably as strong on paper as us," he said.

"It is going to be a hard slog and our path to a medal is going to be very, very hard and there isn't a whole lot of room for error.

"We have to treat the preparation (seriously), which is short compared to what I've been through in the past due to the NBA and FIBA rules.

"But we have warm-up games against Canada and obviously the Team USA games, so we need to be ready to go at the World Cup."

BOOMERS SQUAD: Deng Adel, Aron Baynes, Todd Blanchfield, Andrew Bogut, Jonah Bolden, Mitch Creek, Matthew Dellavedova, Cameron Gliddon, Chris Goulding, Joe Ingles, Nicholas Kay, Jock Landale, Mitch McCarron, Patty Mills, Brock Motum, Ben Simmons, Nathan Sobey

2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China, held between August 31 - September 15.

News Corp Australia


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