The Boomers (ranked 9th in the world by FIBA) finished their seven-game European tour with a 4-3 record. They were runners-up at the recent London Olympic test event with an impressive 4-1 record and then played two tough losses against the world’s number two team, Spain, and their quintet of NBA superstars.
The 14 touring Boomers players will now enjoy a brief stint at their respective homes before gathering once more for a final four-day training camp at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre from 3 – 6 September.
The camp will be used to determine which 12 players will represent Australia at the 2011 FIBA Oceania Championship against the New Zealand Tall Blacks for the right to earn the Oceania zone’s automatic entry into the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Despite Australia’s strong record in Europe, they will be facing one of their toughest tests this year, against a Kiwi opponent high in confidence.
The Tall Blacks are currently ranked 18th in the world but won the recent Stankovic Cup title in China with some notable victories, including a win over world number 11 Russia. They also defeated the selfsame Angolan team (ranked 13th) that earlier downed the Boomers in the final of the first leg of the Stankovic Cup.
It’s also worth remembering that the New Zealand Breakers became the first sporting team from New Zealand ever to win an Australian-based professional competition when they defeated the Cairns Taipans 2-1 to take out the 2010/11 iiNet NBL Championship in April. That Breakers team was peppered with Tall Blacks members, meaning New Zealand basketball is riding high on a wave of confidence.
For just the second time ever, the Boomers will head into the Oceania zone final without being the reigning titleholders. The Tall Blacks currently hold the trans-Tasman trophy, the Ramsay Shield, after beating the Boomers in 2009 on points differential. The Boomers won the opening match of that two-game series, but the Tall Blacks notched a record 22-point win in the return bout to enjoy a series win over the Boomers for just the second time ever.
Whether the Tall Blacks can now successfully defend the Ramsay Shield for the first time in history remains to be seen.
Game One of that FIBA Oceania Championship series, which is to be played as a unique double-header with the Jayco Opals, will be in Melbourne on 7 September at the State Netball Hockey Centre (AKA ‘The Cage’). Game Two will be at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on 9 September and Game Three at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on 11 September.
Tickets for the Melbourne and Sydney games are on sale now through Ticketmaster, while tickets to the Brisbane game are now being sold through Ticketek.
3 – 6 Sept Training Camp - Melbourne
7 Sept 2011 FIBA Oceania Championship for Men (vs. NZ) – Game 1, Melbourne
9 Sept 2011 FIBA Oceania Championship for Men (vs. NZ) – Game 2, Brisbane
11 Sept 2011 FIBA Oceania Championship for Men (vs. NZ) – Game 3, Sydney