Boomers take key step in Cup journey

February 21, 2024 BY

Game on: The Australian The Boomers will take on Korea on Thursday evening at Red Energy Arena in Bendigo. Photo: ROBERT BIBBY

THE Australian Boomers will take their first steps toward another World Cup in Thursday night’s basketball showdown with Korea in Bendigo.

Six players will represent Australia at senior level for the first time in the Asia Cup qualifier.

Boomers’ coach Brian Goorjian said the clash with Korea was important, not just qualifying for the Asia Cup, but also World Cup.

“Seedings for the World Cup will be based on Asia Cup results,” Goorjian said after Wednesday’s training session at Bendigo’s Red Energy Arena.

Goorjian said a new-look group will bring plenty of energy to a packed show court.

Although it’s six on debut, Goorjian said all had a “strong grounding” in their basketball journey.

Most of the team playing Korea have just completed NBL seasons.

“The strength of programs such as Bendigo and Ballarat, NBL clubs, Centre of Excellence, all play an important part in the journey to being a Boomer,” he said.

“As a coach there is a short window to prepare for games such as this, but the players are straight from competition, skill packages are great, as is condition.”

Goorjian said a lot of the focus was on the Boomers style of play.

“Korea has a new coach and a lot of new players, so for us it’s about what we do and can do well,” he said.

Goorjian said the Boomers were rapt to be back in Bendigo.

“A lot of the players have been to Bendigo before and are comfortable with the surroundings,” he said.

“The fans here are fantastic,” Goorjian said of being in a city which is home to Bendigo Spirit, NBL1 teams Bendigo Braves.

It’s also where Dyson Daniels and Maryborough-raised Matt Dellavedova who have gone on to or did star in the NBA also played many times.

Nick Kay. Photo: SUPPLIED

A bronze medallist in the Tokyo Olympics, Nick Kay is on the road to Paris.

Kay will captain the team against the Korea and is excited about what the newcomers bring to the court and program.

Big-game experience for Kay includes two NBL championship victories with the Perth Wildcats.

“The Boomers always try to play with a lot of energy,” he said.

“Getting after teams is what we have done well many times and want to keep doing.”

Kay said defensive energy is a core value for any Boomer, no matter what the game tally is.

“The younger players are in this group are learning as much as they can about Boomers culture and also take a lot of pride in wearing the green and gold,” he said.

Those newcomers include Rocco Zikarsky from the Brisbane Bullets, and Josh Dent from the Centre of Excellence.

At a height of 7 foot 3 inches or more than 220 centimetres, Zikarsky’s athleticism has thrilled many fans in a short space of time.

Among those in the stands tonight will be family from Brisbane and Melbourne.

“I am really stoked to be part of this group,” Zikarsky said of being selected to represent his country against Korea,” he said.

“It was a childhood dream to represent the Boomers.”

He will be determined game one in Bendigo is the first of many.

Zikarsky and Josh Dent were team-mates for Australia at the World Cup and Asia Cup at under-17 level in 2022.

Both bring different dynamics to the court.

Zikarsky with the rebounding ability, and Dent with the quick feet and hands in his role as a guard.

The basketball journey for Dent began with Wollongong Hawks.

He has tipped a fierce contest with Korea.

“They have some really quick guards,” Dent said.

Australian Boomers team to play South Korea in Bendigo:

Nicholas Kay (captain), Taran Armstrong, Josh Bannan, Josh Dent, Ben Henshall, Jordan Hunter, Isaac Humphries, Nick Marshall, Mitch McCarron, Kye Savage, Dejan Vasilvevic, Rocco Zikarsky.

Coach: Brian Goorjian.

Assistant coaches: Jacob Chance, Robert McKinlay, Kerry Williams.

The Boomers and Korea match tips off at 6.30pm.