I had the chance for brief catch up with Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis a few hours out from the round of 16 games featuring both the Australian and New Zealand teams.
Australia takes on Turkey 8pm Sunday (local time). Four hours earlier the Tall Blacks will face Lithuania.
I began by asking him how he felt his team was performing after the Australians finished pool D in second place.
“Very pleased with how we have been able to build over the course of the tournament, we have played some really good basketball and got to the round of 16 healthy which is important as we can come out at full strength.
Turkey are going to be a tough opponent we look forward to playing them and hopefully being able to advance, this is the fun stage now”
Q Have you played Turkey before?
No certainly not in my time with the Boomers, this will be my first experience against them.
Q Have you talked to NZ coaches about how they went against Turkey?
“Just briefy, just had a bit of a chat. We obviously have a video team that has a relationship with a lot of other scouts from the other pools so we have a lot of information on them. That’s all great but at the end of the day you have to come out and play
Q Have the Tall Blacks coaches sought you out about facing Lithuania?
No, I had a brief exchange with Pero (Cameron) yesterday in the foyer of the hotel. I think there has been an exchange through the video guys who have all spoken with each other
Is it nice to have Kiwis staying in the hotel with you?
For sure, it’s always great to see those guys there are a lot of good friendships, good relationships with those people.” Referring to the Breakers players he has coached Lemanis added “We’ve been through a lot together and had a lot of success together there is always a special bond when you meet up with those sorts of people
Q Do you hope you can meet in the quarter final?
“Wouldn’t that be great? Imagine that, an Australian v New Zealand quarter final at the World Cup, wouldn’t that be just a fantastic result for both our countries.”
Q It must be good for the credibility of Oceania to have both teams in the last 16?
“Yes and that is something that happened commonly at World cups. I remember in Turkey that both Australia and NZ went through to round of 16. We’ve been able to get through our pools and now the challenge is for one of us to make a bit more noise and go on and see if we can actually get a medal.”
Q Do you think this Australian team is capable of that?
‘That is what we set our sites on right from the start is coming here and getting a medal. It is something Australia has never done on the mens side at a world event like the Olympic games or World Cup. We have set our sites on being the first (Australian) team to get that done”
The former Breakers coach was in a positive frame of mind, fingers crossed for both the Boomers and Tall Blacks.