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''There's nothing I love better than playing for Australia'' - Matthew Dellavedova
CANBERRA (Australia) - Suiting up for the Australia national team excites Matthew Dellavedova like nothing else, especially when it comes to playing at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
“I wish it was in May or June, instead of having to wait until August," Dellavedova recently told Australian media.
A concussion suffered last month brought a premature end to the 6ft 4in (1.93m) playmaker's NBA season with the Cleveland Cavaliers and it's highly likely the next time he returns to competitive action is in the Boomers' and gold at the World Cup in China.
"THERE'S REALLY NOTHING BETTER THAN THAT (PLAYING FOR AUSTRALIA). WE'VE GOT A LOT OF GREAT LEADERS ON THE TEAM. IT'S JUST AN EASY GROUP TO PLAY WITH."
The Aussies, of course, are among the favorites to finish on the podium in China, given their depth of talent, and fans expect seasoned veteran Dellavedova to be a vital cog of the squad, which will jumpstart their preparations with a pair of tune-up games opposite Canada in Perth, Australia before another pair of games against no less than Team USA at the Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.
#BoomersCanada | General public tickets are now ON SALE!— Basketball Australia (@BasketballAus) April 11, 2019
See some of the biggest names in 🏀 when the Boomers host @CanBball at @RACArena on August 16 & 17 in Perth: https://t.co/x0qgWgLj4Z #GoBoomers pic.twitter.com/fe7aDEmids
"There’s nothing I love better than playing for Australia," said Dellavedova. "Just the environment and unselfishness, and style of play and the group of guys, the coaches; everything is how basketball should be. There’s really nothing better than that. We’ve got a lot of great leaders on the team. It’s just an easy group to play with."
The magnitude of this new opportunity to play for the Boomers is not lost on the 28-year-old Maryborough native, especially their highly-anticipated games against the Americans. Both Australia and the USA can potentially parade full rosters of NBA talent, a rarity on the international stage.
Celebrating two Australians going head to head in the Finals with this "Aussies in the NBA" special edition piece... pic.twitter.com/iBDjPNCjbw— Adam Ballinger Art (@adam_ballinger) May 31, 2015
"Obviously, we're having the most NBA players we've ever had over here, but you've also got great players in Europe, the NBL's doing really well and the quality's just getting better and better," explained Dellavedova.
"That's going to be pretty special, and something that none of us have really experienced before. It's going to be a lot of fun, but, at the same time, we've gotta stay focused."
When the Boomers do tip off their World Cup campaign, they will find themselves in Group H, widely considered to be the so-called 'Group of Death,' especially with European powerhouse Lithuania and strong African side Senegal joining them in addition to the aforementioned Canadians.
As tough as the grind will be, however, Dellavedova and Co. will enter the World Cup with chips on their shoulders and use that to fuel their fire.
Three years ago, at the Rio Olympics, the Boomers were hot favorites to finish with a medal - their first at a world level competition - only to lose in the Semi-Final to Serbia and then fall short in the Bronze Medal Game against Spain. Those heartbreaks are still felt down under and should give the Boomers stronger motivation to do well in China.
"We've been talking about that since Rio, how important the World Cup and the Olympics are, and the opportunity we have," Dellavedova recalled. "We all got together last off-season and discussed what we needed to do in the lead-up, to give us the best preparation to do what we want do, and that's win a gold medal."