AppleNader, what do you think of Australia's chances?
Boomers need time: Goorjian
By James Dampney
July 13, 2006
AUSTRALIA coach Brian Goorjian is confident the Boomers can gel before next month's world titles in Japan.
A disjointed Australia struggled to overcome New Zealand in game one of their four-match series last night, but Goorjian sees the games as an essential part of the build-up to the world championships, which begin on August 19.
In 35 years of competition Australia has lost just one series to the Kiwis, in 2001, but the visitor dodged a bullet with an 81-79 overtime victory in game one at Napier in New Zealand.
Australia trailed 7-0 early against the experienced Kiwi line-up, which has stayed largely intact since a fourth-place finish at the last world titles in the United States four years ago.
The Boomers gradually found some form and ultimately scraped home, thanks largely to twin towers Chris Anstey and Andrew Bogut, who combined for 38 points and 22 rebounds.
The backcourt was the biggest area of concern, particularly starting point guard Aaron Bruce, who made a nervous debut in the green and gold.
But he was far from alone in a team that will need to make quick improvements to have any chance of making an impact in Japan.
"It wasn't unexpected," said Goorjian. "Even the camaraderie, they're not comfortable, whether it's who's going to speak, who's going to step up – they're just feeling each other out.
"The Kiwis know their pecking order and are tight. We're just not comfortable on the floor with each other.
"That's a process that takes five or six weeks. I just thought it was a good sign that we won the game."
Australia has lost plenty of experience for its world championship campaign, including Athens Olympians CJ Bruton, Matt Nielsen, Glen Saville and David Andersen, who were all being groomed for Japan.
Saville and Andersen are injured, Nielsen has been ruled out over an insurance issue with his Lithuanian club and Bruton, who led the Boomers to Commonwealth Games gold in March, is chasing an NBA contract.
Point guard Bruton's absence was the most hard-felt last night.
Bruce struggled but is sure to improve, and fellow 21-year-old Steve Markovic is more suited to the shooting guard position.
Sydney Kings guard Luke Kendall, 25, looked the most assured directing the offence.
"Without CJ, Andersen, Saville and Nielsen, we walked into the gym and the Kiwis were like 'what is this?'," said Goorjian.
"It would be like (veteran Kiwis) Pero Cameron, Mark Dickel, Kirk Penney and Phill Jones not being there for them.
"We put three years of hard work into those guys and that level of player (Bruce, Markovic, Kendall) should be backing them up.
"We've still got six weeks and we need to play much better in game two."
Game two will be held in Napier tomorrow before the series shifts to Hobart and Melbourne.
You guys have Bogut, who's been impressive as a national team member so far. But you guys have lost quite a few major players, so its hard to say.
...they have a chance of not being dominated by most other teams given the withdrawals of several important international players from their respective teams. The following are those players who will not be in the 2006 World Championships: