Today I quickly caught up with Andrej Lemanis before he flew out to Europe with the Australian Boomers squad to begin their nine game preparation for the Basketball World Cup in Spain.
He spoke about what we can expect from the Aussies on the court, who’s been the stand-out improver over the last 12 months since the Oceania Championships & what he expects from the upcoming warm-up games.
Flying out today Andrej… How’s the preparation been for the team?
Yeah, I’m happy where we’ve landed with the group. It’s always a difficult task to get down to the final twelve. There’s always some good players who miss out but I think that’s a great reflection on the strength of Australian basketball. Looking forward now to playing some games!
I guess that’s the beauty of this year in comparison to previous years, obviously this is your first World Cup, but it seems like the cuts were more difficult to make this year.
Yeah they were & that’s, I think the worst part of my job… Telling someone that’s given their everything at a camp & is a good player, that unfortunately you didn’t make the team. Everyone that’s made the team has deserved their spot on the group. I think we’ve got a group that will play the right way & the chemistry will be good. Looking forward to seeing how we go in these preparation games.
What can we expect from this team at this World Cup in terms of style? Is it going to be a lot of transition, fast paced basketball or a lot of half-court sets… or do you not want to give it away too early?
Well hopefully we’ll get the mix right. I think that’s one of the things we haven’t got right as a nation in the past. Obviously we’re good in the open court & you want to get out & get the easy scores out of transition but it’s understanding when that opportunity has ceased & we’d need to play with a bit of poise at the offensive end. I think that’s going to be a part of our challenge & development over this next nine game period is having a great understanding of that.
Defensively, we’ve always been a very tough defensive nation. But, I suppose it’s about being smart with our disruption up the floor & how we attack from a tactical point of view.
Yeah, the back-court is seriously good defensively this year. Are we going to see a lot of presses?
Well, I think that’s my style anyway & the style of Australian basketball to ‘get up’. Whilst there will be a lot of full-court defense, I don’t necessarily call it ‘press’… For me it’s a bit more about disruption & being smart. You know, do you take it out of one guys hands, do you make an on-ball handler handle it… How can you stop the other team from just coming down running their offense at the rhythm they are used to running it? That’s what we’ll be trying to get done.
Your first major tournament was the Oceania Championships… A few of the guys like Dante Exum & Cameron Bairstow, you really saw for the first time there in a competition setting. How have you been happy with how some of these young guys have developed in the last 12 months?
Yeah for sure, Bairstow’s a fantastic example for someone who came into the Boomers program last year for the first time & that really accelerated his development. He went back to New Mexico & had an outstanding senior year there & has now ended up being drafted into the NBA which is a fantastic result for him. Just watching him throughout the season you could see that he’s certainly started to elevate his game & again that’s transferred into how he performed at the camp.
In the warm up games in Eastern Europe & then (not much of a seaside vacation in) Nice, what to you expect to see from the team in terms of preparation for the tournament & especially the first game against Slovenia?
That’s really important for us, those games. That’s something we really identified as a group last year the need to go get quality games & that’s why we’re leaving so early to go to Europe so we can get in these nine games. That’s where all your preparation is, you find out about where your weaknesses are, what works for you, understanding your rotations as a group, who plays together well… Guys start to understand say, ‘Delly get’s two fouls early, I need to come in’ & sort of get that synergy working.
Thanks Andrej, have a safe flight mate & good luck!
Thanks, appreciate it.
Australia’s warm-up games vs Ukraine (16th August), Philippines (17th August) & France (18th & 25th August) will be LIVE on ESPN. For channel & timing information click here.