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Australia's Mitch Creek has World Cup medal dreams
CANBERRA (Australia) - One of Australia's rising stars, Mitch Creek, gets more excited by the day as the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 gets closer and closer.
"It would be absolutely fantastic to win a medal this summer, and bring that back home."
The last time Creek received a medal as part of the national team was in the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 when the Boomers swept their games and brought home the gold.
This time around, however, the 6ft 6in (1.97m) wingman wants more prestigious hardware as Australia gun for a podium finish at the World Cup in China. Creek, who led the Green & Gold in scoring at the Asia Cup two years ago, has been named as part of the 17-man squad, and he can't wait for training camp to begin.
"I've had the World Cup on my mind for so long now, and having the possibility to fight for a spot on the final roster is such a great opportunity," he said. "My confidence has grown so much in the last year, and I'd like to help the Boomers have a great campaign this summer. It’s so great to play in an international competition like the FIBA World Cup, and I'd like to experience this at the end of the summer in China."
Creek will have his work cut out for him when camp begins just to make the final 12. Basketball Australia have included Ben Simmons, Andrew Bogut, Jonah Bolden, Matthew Dellavedova, Aron Baynes, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills in the preliminary squad.
Australia are expected to parade one of the deepest teams in the entire field, and Creek believes they'll be among the best teams at the World Cup.
"We have so many talented guys, so many experienced players, and it’s probably one of the best pools in the history of Australia’s basketball," he explained. "We have guys playing in the best teams and in the best leagues in the world and who are so motivated to help the national team shine at international level, which is very important. I'm so excited because that shows also that basketball is growing fast in our country and that many kids can be inspired by seeing Ben Simmons, Andrew Bogut and Patty Mills, so I think everyone is excited about how competitive and deep the pool of players is currently for the men’s national team."
Creek was Australia's most efficient player in the Asian Qualifiers after averaging 14.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He's excited about meeting up with the other Australians, including couple of players that, like him, figure to be in the Boomers program for a long time in Philadelphia 76ers duo Simmons and Bolden..
"Ben is such a fantastic player, a unique kind of player as he is a point guard that is so tall and feels the game so well," he shared. "He is going to be one of the best players of the tournament for sure. Jonah is a very solid player, and he is the kind of guy that everyone wants in his team: he can shoot, he can defend, he can grab rebounds, and he is a player that has impact on both ends of the floor. We can build a very, very good team. Those are exciting times for Australian basketball."
Australia won 10 of their 12 Asian Qualifiers games, clinching qualification even before the final competition window began. Creek played in half of their games.
"I really enjoyed and learned a lot during the games of the qualifiers," he said. "I did get out of my ‘comfort zone’ like I always do, as I always do and as it's very important in order to keep improving and learning about the game. I like to challenge myself and to establish high goals. I know the pool is very competitive and that some guys couldn’t make it to the qualifiers, but my goal is to be in the last 12 that is going to compete in China."
No matter who makes the final roster, it's going to be extremely tough for Australia from the start. In Group H, they will compete against Lithuania, Canada and Senegal.
"Lithuania are a very good team, that has a lot of experience and that showed in previous international competitions that they are a team that can fight for medals," Creek said. "Senegal are very good, too, and they won’t come to China just to play three games. Canada have been improving a lot in the last couple of years. Now with the addition of coach Nick Nurse, it’s going to be very interesting. They have a huge pool of players like we do, and it’s going to be very intense to get to the top two spots of the group."
Australia have never clinched a top-three spot at a World Cup or an Olympic Games..
"It would be absolutely fantastic to win a medal this summer, and bring that back home," Creek said. "I'm dreaming about this and all the guys, my teammates, the staff and the basketball federation, are working hard in order to reach that goal as soon as possible. We'd all like this to happen this summer, and that would be great to win a medal and keep the same dynamic going for the next competitions coming."
Creek says the first World Cup to be staged in China is sure to be special.
"I'm also looking forward to the whole experience in China, as I am sure that the environment and the vibe surrounding the tournament is going to be great," he said. "It’s a country of basketball, and people are excited to see the best guys on the planet come to China to compete. All the ingredients are going to be there to make one of the best basketball tournaments ever."