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Is World Cup glory in the cards for powerhouse Australia?
The Boomers were drawn into what many pundits are describing as the "Group of Death" - Group H. The Green & Gold will be playing Lithuania (ranked 6th in the latest FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike), Canada (ranked 23rd) and Senegal (2nd-highest ranked Africa team). Lithuania and Senegal are both making their 5th appearance at the World Cup, while Canada are playing at their 14th World Cup.
Do you like Australia's chances at the 2019 FIBA World Cup after being draw with Lithuania, Canada and Senegal in Group H?— The Pick and Roll (@PickandRollAU) March 18, 2019
by @DamianArsenis #AussieHoops #FIBAWC pic.twitter.com/pX1pX7mNsB
Australia were among the most dominant teams in the Asian Qualifiers, compiling 10 wins against only 2 defeats. Their only losses came at the hands of a full strength Japan in the 3rd window and in their final assignment against a desperate Iran.
One must remember, though, that the Boomers themselves were never at full strength in the Asian Qualifiers as most of their NBA talents were unavailable to suit up. Only Thon Maker, Matthew Dellavedova and Mitch Creek were the NBA players who saw action for Australia in the Asian Qualifiers, but most if not all of their NBA talents should make the team in China.
That means that Australia can potentially have a team made up entirely of NBA players, who will possibly be led by All-Star Ben Simmons along with the aforementioned Maker, Creek and Dellavedova. Among the other major Australian NBA players who can carry the Boomers at the World Cup are Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs, Joe Ingles of the Utah Jazz, Andrew Bogut of the Golden State Warriors and Aron Baynes of the Boston Celtics.
Australia are ranked 11th in the world, which seems too low for a squad that can potentially be 12-deep with NBA-level talent. The only other teams that can match that are Canada and, of course, the United States. If that were to be our only basis, Group D could hold 2 of the top 3 teams at the World Cup!
Games are not won on paper, however, and coach Andrej Lemanis's wards will still have to do the work on the hardwood. Having said that, Australia already proved that they can be a top 4 team in the world, especially after their 4th place finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics. They're heavily motivated as well, seeing as this may be their best chance to come home with some World Cup hardware for the first time in their history.
Much of it, though, does depend on the kind of personnel Lemanis will have at his disposal. Should Simmons & Co. be at full strength and fully healthy, it's easy to imagine Australia making a World Cup run to remember, but if most of Australia's NBA talents sit this one out, there's a chance Australia may not even make it out of Group H given the strength of their first round opposition.
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