Boomers Sweat on Bogut for Olympic Bid

By Staff Writer    |    Basketball   |   Jun 21, 2011 06:07 AM

Australia’s national basketball team the Boomers and their dedicated coach Brett Brown are sweating on the availability of Milwaukee Bucks NBA star Andrew Bogut for their bid to win their Olympic qualifier against New Zealand this September.

The Boomers, currently ranked ninth in the world, face the ultimatum of having to defeat the New Zealand Tall Blacks in a best-of-three game FIBA Oceania Olympic Championship qualifier in September to secure their position in the 2012 London Games.

Australian-born Bogut, a 7-foot, 26-year-old giant, hit the big time when he was drafted number one overall in the NBA for the Bucks back in 2005, the first Aussie basketball player to be selected first overall.

Bogut’s glittering international career has included two previous Olympic games appearances when he started for the Boomers at the 2004 Athens Olympic and again at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where they finished seventh.

Despite the highs, Bogut has also experienced the worst of his sport famously injuring himself in a horror episode when playing the Phoenix Suns in April of 2010.

Falling on his right arm after making a slam dunk, Bogut broke his hand and dislocated his elbow, the most recent issue the biggest setback for Bogut who also had a marred season the year before due to a nagging back injury.

Hospitalised and sidelined from the NBA after the shocking fall, Bogut has been on the mend ever since undergoing surgery in April.

His Milwaukee club confirmed Bogut’s operation was to eliminate “loose particles and scar tissue” in his wounded joint.

Brown is well aware that Bogut is in doubt for the upcoming Olympic qualifiers, his fitness and recovery process just part of what will determine his availability for the Boomers.

“Andrew’s health and insurance are always out there; they’re always a concern,” Brown said.

“We have to make sure that he feels comfortable with his fitness and obviously financially he has to take care of his family.

“(Bogut has to) make sure that his insurance is perfect.

“There’s no margin for error with the prospective NBA lock-out.

“Making sure that’s all secure, making sure the Bucks agree that it’s secure, making sure that Andrew’s legal people and agents feel comfortable with it.”

The Boomer’s biggest drawcard player, without him Brown knows their chances against New Zealand lowers.

“Our fingers are crossed. We hope we can pull it off,” Brown said optimistically.

“He’s obviously our crown jewel.

“We just go into it with our fingers crossed.”

The ‘Golden Star’ Boomers are currently in training ahead of a two-game tournament against world number 10 China that starts on Friday night in the YouYi Friendly Games at Perth’s Challenge Stadium.

The Boomers squad boasts little experience, the line-up primarily consisting of NBL players headlined by talented forward and 2010 World Championship player David Barlow, Perth Wildcats star Damian Martin and Luke Nevill who currently plays for Russia’s BC Triumph Lyubertsy.

“We’ll be rusty, but it’s all about them understanding that we are a defensive program,” Brown said.

“It’s looking as it should.

“You’ve got a bunch of guys that have never really played with each other that are coming in listening to a coach with a funny accent and trying to sort out all the language and the terms.

“I think it takes a long time.

“We only have six practices, three scrimmages and then we go play a game.

“We’ll just try to introduce a basic game plan and a basic structure and do our best to polish it up in the limited time we have.

“But you always want to win. That’s why we’re here.”

The second game will be played at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Sunday June 26, giving the Boomers a final preparatory match before the FIBA Oceania Olympic Qualification series.