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''We just have to play the right way, the Australia way'' - Mitch Creek
CANBERRA (Australia) - Australia have never reached the podium at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, but that could change later this year.
The Boomers are expected to be led by a slew of NBA standouts committed to don the Green & Gold when they embark on their World Cup campaign, fully intent on making history with a first-ever piece of silverware on the world stage.
They will be put to the test right from the start, having Canada, Lithuania and Senegal as their opponents in Dongguan's Group H, widely considered the competition's 'group of death.'
''WE JUST HAVE TO PLAY THE RIGHT WAY AND PLAY THE WAY AUSTRALIANS DO AND I THINK WE WILL DO THAT IN SPADES.''
While being drawn with these three teams offers significant challenges, it also provides Australia a tremendous opportunity to send a strong message to the rest of the field.
One man determined to help the team reach this end is Mitch Creek, who made his NBA debut this past 2018-2019 season. The 6ft 5in (1.97m) swingman led his nation to the title at the FIBA Asia Cup in 2017 and was instrumental in the Boomers going 10-2 in the Asian Qualifiers for China 2019.
However, he has never played alongside the country's vaunted core group of NBA stars including Matthew Dellavedova, Thon Maker, Joe Ingles, Patty Mills and Ben Simmons. Veterans Mills, Ingles and Dellavedova helped the Boomers to a fourth-place finish at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
All signs point to Creek being a likely inclusion in Australia's World Cup squad and finally seeing him in action for the national team with his NBA compatriots.
"Yeah it is a little bit exciting," said Creek. "Every time you go onto the international stage with FIBA tournaments, it's good to know you're representing your country."
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His anticipation notwithstanding, Creek also knows the task will be anything but easy. He expects to cross paths with the very best basketball talent the globe has to offer and putting up a breakthrough performance will require everything he and his teammates have to offer.
“At the end of the day it is a basketball court, it has a ring, there is a basketball and there are 10 guys on the court," he rationalized. "You just have to outwork them and be a little more precise with your preparation. It is a one game thing. You have to win to advance through."
The Boomers will play all three Group Phase First Round games in Dongguan. Should they finish among Group H's top two, they will progress to the Second Round in Nanjing, where they will take on the two best from Group G, which consists of powerhouse Dominican Republic, France, Germany or Jordan.
"To know who we play and who we cross over with is great, but realistically, we have to get healthy beforehand and put a great team on the court that wants success, which we will," he Creek warned.
"We just have to play the right way and play the way Australians do and I think we will do that in spades."