We chat with Boomers star David Andersen
He's made it at the NBA level, he's dominated the European level, and now he's back home with the Boomers and looking to create history at the Olympic level. We catch up with Australian basketball superstar, David Andersen.
You’re just come off a big European season, with a Championship in the Italian League. Have you had a chance to rest at all?
DA: A little bit. I mean, when I say rest, we had a 10-day ‘basketball pause’, which is what they call it. A bit of time off, but not too much. Just been trying to get my knee right, which I hurt in the final. Just slowly getting back into it and working hard with the boys now.
What happened to your knee and how is it progressing?
DA: I’m just trying to nurse it a bit now — it was a long season in Europe — over 10 months and over 70 games, so it was long, and I copped a couple of big bangs on it, a couple of bone-bruises, and generally they take a long time to heal, and that’s one thing that I haven’t got at the moment. I’m just trying to rehab it and do the work with Bohden [Babijczuk] and the other trainers on the team, but everything will be right come the Olympics.
What were your goals individually coming into the European season?
DA: The goals, coming off an NBA season after not playing so much and getting shipped around a bit, were to get some minutes under my belt and help another team to a Championship. With Sienna, we had great expectations to try to win the EuroLeague. Unfortunately we didn’t make it, losing to Olympiakos in the play-offs, who went on to win it in a surprise win over CSKA [Moscow]. The other objectives were to win the Italian Cup, which we did mid-season, and then to win the Italian Championship this year, which was our sixth in a row, which was history-making.
How did the fans receive the big win? Were there big Italian-style celebrations?
DA: Yeah it was pretty big. Like I said, it was six in a row for Montepaschi Sienna, so they were very rapt about it. The fans got a bit complacent after winning five in a row and dominating for such a long time, they were not always out for the big games, but when we got to the finals they were right there behind us and after we won it, they had a big party in the middle of Sienna, down in Piazza del Campo, which was nice.
What’s life like living in Sienna?
DA: It’s a small city; only 80 or 90 thousand people. You get a lot of tourists there, so they do tend to speak a bit more English and German, because there’s a lot of Germans coming down there. It’s a beautiful part of the world. At the end of the season it was hot and like I said, there are rolling hills, great food, really good wines and it’s a really peaceful part of the world.
Some people seem really suited to the European style and some the NBA style. You’ve had some legitimate success in the NBA but probably lacked opportunities. You’ve been dominant in Europe. Describe the differences in the two Leagues.
DA: It is different. Generally speaking, there’s a lot more pressure on the games in Europe and it’s a lot more team-play oriented and there’s a lot more strategy to it, I believe. The NBA is a lot more one-on-one and supreme athletes tend to dominate more in that League, whereas in Europe you can limit the influence of athletes by a team play or a team environment. Having said that, there are still a lot of NBA players who come over and dominate in Europe, and vice-versa, so the European style is slightly different and it’s definitely catching up. One style might be a bit more flashy with the athletes and the dunking and everything, but definitely the European style is tough, and I find challenges playing in both Leagues but the European style for me is quite good for me and I’ve found my little niche there, but I am hoping to get back and have another crack at the NBA style.
This is your third Olympics. Talk about the feeling coming into your third campaign — does the feeling change in the build-up?
DA: Now the younger guys are looking to us — Matty Nielsen and myself — for guidance a bit. We’ve been around the block now, it’s our third one. But have said that, it never gets less exciting. I’m sure as we get even closer those feelings will become even more predominant. It’s a great feeling and you’re always excited about going there to represent your country, and we’re really excited about going because we’ve got a good bunch of guys, we’ve worked really hard, we’ve got a good staff and everything, so we’re pretty well prepared.
Where do you see the strengths in this Boomers team?
DA: There’s always that Australian trademark of toughness and competitiveness on the defensive end with hustle plays and everything like that, and this team is one of the best because all of the guys are in great shape. The trainers have done a good job, the coaches have done a good job in stressing that we’re going to be the fittest team in London, so that’s going to be one of our strengths, I believe, like so many Australian teams in the past. Another will be our skills on offense to push the ball. We’ve got great slashers, we’ve got aggressive point guards in Delly and Patty Mills who can score at will, and then we’ve got the low-post game with me and Truck [Aleks Maric] and Baynesy, so we’ve got a good combination I feel, and at the end of the day, we’ve got to pick our poison and roll with whoever is hot and work together as a team.
Who are the countries that we need to focus on?
DA: Our first game is going to be super important against Brazil. If we can get that win straight off the bat, that’s going to be huge for us. Spain is always going to be a big ask. We’re playing against them twice in preparation, so, it’ll gauge a little bit, but having said that they’ll no doubt hide some of their strengths, so you can’t worry too much if you lose or win in the build up. And then the other teams that we’ve got to beat, like Great Britain, we’ve got to assert ourselves and get those wins. But like I said, Brazil is going to be a big game at the start, and if we can get that win, it’ll be real big. If we don’t, then you’ve just got to fight through. We’ve seen how it can all pan out.