Dante Exum and Australia begin their FIBA World Cup of Basketball bid against equally dangerous Slovenia in Group D first round pairings at Grand Canaria, Spain.
The Boomers' chances of improving upon their 8th place finish in the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey rests on the hands of the Utah Jazz guard after the omissions of several key players who are nursing injuries. NBA players Patrick Mills of the San Antonio and Andrew Bogut of the Golden State Warriors are a huge blow to the medal chances of the team from down under thus, several other key cogs in the team will be relied upon to carry the load.
Mills was the leading scorer for the squad in the 2012 London Olympics and he showed much improved long range shooting and point guard duties during last year's championship run by the Spurs. Bogut is the anchor of the defense and is a heavy blow to the squad. However, NBA players like Matthew Dellavadova of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Exum, Aron Baynes of the Spurs and the Chicago Bulls 2014 second round pick Cameron Bairstow will still make Australia a favorite to advance in the next round of eliminations. Boomers head coach Andrei Lemanis will also count on Joe Ingles who will also be given a chance to shine with the absence of Mills as the 6-foot-8 forward will be given the scoring duties aside from Exum.
Their first round match-up is an immediate trip to the rough as Slovenia is a European team loaded with arsenals. The 5th place finisher in last year's Eurobasket in their mother country will have to achieve a lot with the retirement of seasoned national team players such as former New Jersey Nets Bostjan Nachbar and Jaka Lakovic of Italy's Sidigas Avellino.
The main weapons of Slovenia would be the Dragic brothers, Zohan and Goran. The Phoenix Stars point guard would be the main headache of Australia as he would be bringing his one-man fast break to Spain. The perceived weakness of the rising European basketball power would be upfront with the late withdrawal of key cog Erazem Lorbek due to injury.
All in all, this is perceived to be a flip for both squads who have NBA-level talent and will be relying on young guards to provide all the scoring. Expect a hard-nosed run and gun game with lots of shooting for both squads who are hoping to position better in their group that also include powerhouse Lithuania. Teams from Group D are all avoiding a fourth-place finish in their bracket to avoid the next round knockout pairing of possible Group C pacer, United States.
Projected Starting Lineups:
Matthew Dellavedova (Guard)
Ryan Broekhoff (Guard)
Joe Ingles (Forward)
David Andersen (Forward)
Aron Baynes (Center)
Goran Dragic (Guard)
Domen Lorbek (Guard)
Zoran Dragic (Forward)
Jure Balazic (Forward)
Miha Zupan (Center)
Watch the highlights of the Slovenian national team below:
(Video Courtesy of: Youtube/GilasPilipinasFIBA)
Watch the highlights of the Australian national team below:
(Video Courtesy of: Youtube/GD's Latest Highlights)
You can watch the Slovenia vs. Australia live streaming match via ESPN.