U17 Men's team on verge of great achievement says Brown
Head coach of the Australian Boomers Brett Brown says that the Australian Under-17 Men’s basketball team has already achieved something very special, as they prepare to do battle for World Championship gold tonight. He adds however that they have a wonderful opportunity to achieve something that few Australian basketball teams at any age group have achieved throughout history.
Already guaranteed a medal, the group of rising stars will battle team USA for gold in Kaunas, Lithuania, a team that has dominated all opponents by an average of 40 points.
Only two teams have managed to get within 30 points of the USA: Spain, who lost by 29 points in the semi-final last night, and our very own Australians, who lost by 22 points back in the first game of the tournament, a game which was tied over three quarters, with a third-quarter blow-out handing the Americans the victory.
The Aussies have grown in strength as the tournament has progressed however, and after beating the four best teams in Europe, Africa’s best-ranked nation, and the second ranked team in the Americas, they are more than ready for the challenge ahead.
According to Brown, the success of the team is a huge achievement for the country, and one that we should all be very excited about, when looking ahead at the future of the sport on the international hardwood.
“It’s just an incredible experience, it’s just a fantastic opportunity and it’s a very bold statement that Australia has made,” said Brown.
“The Under 17 Men’s national team represents the future of Australian basketball and to be able to play in a gold-medal game at this stage of their junior careers is just a wonderful experience,” he said.
Brown has a unique connection with this U17 group, having coached against a number of the young players’ fathers during his time as a head coach in the National Basketball League.
The U17 team is currently being led in scoring by Dante Exum, whose father, Cecil Exum, played with the North Melbourne Giants, as well as with the Melbourne Tigers and Geelong Supercats.
Another rising star of the group is Ben Simmons, whose father David Simmons was a veteran of the NBL with the Melbourne Tigers, Newcastle Falcons and Canberra Cannons. Sharp-shooter Jack Purchase’s father Nigel Purchase was a great Melbourne Tigers player in the '80s and early '90s.
Beyond that however, Brown says that, not only the basketball community but the Australian sporting community in general can be very excited by what this group has achieved and will aim to accomplish overnight.
“It’s a byproduct of all the work that has been done over the years, and all coaches, administrators and supporters should share in the experience. To play in gold medal games is not a common occurrence,” he said.
Team USA have not dropped a game all tournament, but having defeated Croatia in the semi final, a team that also had not lost over the eight days of competition prior, Brown feels that the Australian U17’s coaching staff have the game-plan to get the job done.
“Guy [Molloy] has obviously got them playing at a very high level. He’s a good person, he’s a committed coach and I’m sure he’s got it all figured out,” he said.
The 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship of Basketball gold medal game between Australia and the USA tips off at 3:30am AEST tomorrow morning [8:30pm local time].