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Mills dreams of a special run for Australia at Tokyo 2020
CANBERRA (Australia) - Australian hotshot Patty Mills is looking forward to a great run in Tokyo 2020 for the Boomers, but he sure hopes they won't end up at fourth place again.
"I am really looking forward to it, really excited with the possibility of having everyone coming to wear the Boomers' jersey," Mills told FIBA.basketball.
"We will be ambitious, and we would like to have a great and happy run in Tokyo. We don't want to experience that fourth spot ever again (smiles)."
Mills has seen action in three Olympic tournaments, first playing in Beijing 2008 and then donning Australia's Green & Yellow in both London 2012 and Rio 2016. Should Mills play in Tokyo as expected, it would be his fourth tour of duty.
"Those are going to be my fourth Olympics, and it's still the same feeling and excitement as the first ones I did compete in 2008," he said. "I hope that everyone is going to be healthy and I am sure that we are going to build such an exciting and competitive team."
One big reason for Mills' excitement is the announcement that Australia will have a returning head coach, Brett Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers. Brown, of course, already helmed the Boomers as part of his decorated coaching career, steering Australia to a top ten finish in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2010 and then to the Quarter-Finals of the London 2012 Olympics.
Brown, in fact, was instrumental in Mills' making the jump from the NBL to the NBA, especially after he played for Brown on the national team.
"Coach Brett Brown has been a very important person in my career, and he really knows everything about the Boomers and Australian basketball," Mills explained.
"That's so great to see him back with us, as he already spent time coaching the national team in the past and he is going to be feel good coming back here in my opinion. He is very ambitious, very motivated to help the Boomers take the next step."
Maybe the biggest challenge in terms of laying the groundwork for the Boomers is gathering as many of their elite players together, but as far Mills knows, coach Brown has already hit the ground running in that department.
"Coach Brown said that he has been talking to a lot of players already, and I am sure that the training camp is going to be very intense as everyone is going to fight for a spot in the final roster," Mills shared.
"Ben (Simmons) came to practice this summer and loved being with us, and that would be so great to have him with us in Tokyo. He is an All-Star, a fantastic player, that is for sure. Thon (Maker) already competed with the national team, and he had great performances. Josh (Green) is doing very good things in college, and he already expressed about his motivation and commitment to help the national team at some point, so that is very exciting for the Boomers. We don't forget Dante (Exum) and the others that are very talented. We have a lot of young guys that can help us, and they will at some point be the pillars of the national team."
The 'Boomahs' era has officially begun. On a conference call, Brett Brown spoke about how he felt a 'duty' to take over as Australia's head coach, putting the ball in Ben Simmons' hands (assuming he plays), and shaking up the team's coaching staff.https://t.co/j6yRrMEdvf— Olgun Uluc (@OlgunUluc) November 27, 2019
Despite those big names, however, Mills knows that he is still expected to be one of the squad's leaders, especially in terms of his scoring and experience.
"I love having responsibilities and am not scared of shooting the ball, but the most important is the team," he said. "I have to be impactful on both sides of the floor and be a good teammate. We are a family, we learn together, we win together, we lose together. I am one of the veterans of the team, and I am also here to help the young guys, the same way the veterans helped me when I started playing for the senior national team."
There is no doubt that Australia are going to be among the teams to watch at Tokyo 2020, and with Mills leading the charge along with a bevy of elite rising stars, the Boomers are set to continue making a lot of noise.
"We want to achieve great things for Australia's basketball," he declared. "We aren't going to lose focus, and we will keep pushing hard in order to keep being very competitive and win."