Mills comes into the line-up following a left ACL tear to Dante Exum in last Wednesday’s game against Slovenia, reducing the Boomers to 11 players.
Talking from the United States, Mills said that he was excited by the opportunity to play for automatic qualification for Rio 2016.
“I’m looking forward to joining my Boomers teammates for this very important qualification series against New Zealand,” he said.
“Playing for my country has always been an honour for me.
“Obviously my shoulder injury last year meant that I had to continue intensive rehab and quality training over the past few months. I've done that and will be ready for the Oceania Championships.
“My focus now is helping my Boomers teammates qualify for Rio 2016.”
The unfortunate timing of Exum’s injury in what was the last match of the Boomers’ European Tour meant that any replacement player will not have been present for the four Internationals against Lithuania and Slovenia. These extenuating circumstances have resulted in Mills’ late call-up to the Boomers team.
Boomers’ head coach Andrej Lemanis considered the options which included going with a reduced team of 11 or, bringing in a player at this late stage just days out from the series against New Zealand’s Tall Blacks.
Speaking at Friday’s press conference, Lemanis explained:
“The caveat is always what’s in the best interest of the team. This group has spent time together building a synergy and adding a piece to that obviously needs to add value so we need to work through that.”
Having spoken with Mills over the weekend, Lemanis added:
“Although Dante’s injury is still fresh in our mind, we need to adapt quickly and move on as our focus now is on beating New Zealand.
“Patty is the best-placed player to come into the team quickly,” Lemanis continued. “He’s an elite player, an NBA Champion and seasoned at International play and importantly, knows the Boomers’ system and style of play.
“If we were going to add a player to replace Dante, we needed someone who can help us beat New Zealand and that is Patty Mills.”
Just 500 tickets remain for Saturday’s double-header, dubbed the #homecoming, at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena where the Jayco Australian Opals and the Australian Boomers play New Zealand. If sold out, the all-important games will result in one of the largest crowds for a basketball match in Australia in over 15 years. The event will be broadcast LIVE and FREE on the Nine Network’s Gem Channel.
The Boomers will join the Jayco Opals on Tuesday August 11 from 4pm at Melbourne’s Southbank, Queensbridge Square, in a not-to-be-missed fan event. Several thousand Boomers’ and Opals’ supporters are expected to be out in force to welcome the teams to Melbourne ahead of Saturday’s game at Rod Laver Arena.
#homecoming details for August 15:
Doors open: 1700
Jayco Opals v Tall Ferns tip-off: 1835
Boomers v Tall Blacks tip-off: 2030
*All times AEST.
The Australian Boomers team to play New Zealand August 15 & 18: David Andersen, Cameron Bairstow, Andrew Bogut, Ryan Broekhoff, Matthew Dellavedova, Adam Gibson, Chris Goulding, Nate Jawai, Damian Martin, Patrick Mills, Brock Motum and Brad Newley.