David Andersen is the standard bearer for the Australian Boomers.
A four-time Olympian with NBA and elite European experience, the Frankston-raised star is now back home in Victoria at NBL club Melbourne United and as the Boomers return to action after the Rio Olympics, he wants to set the course for continued success.
This begins when the Boomers open their FIBA Asia Cup campaign against Japan in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday night.
The Boomers have entered a new era where they will play regular world cup qualifiers and do so within Asia where the game is growing rapidly.
This also means the side’s NBA players will miss two or even three of the team’s game windows each year, leaving NBL players to keep the team winning.
Andersen will be one of the linchpins between the two sides and he won’t be letting standards drop as the Boomers chase the Asian title.
“For me being a senior guy it’s about there being a bit of continuation, I don’t want there to be a fallout like has kind of happened in the past where all the old dogs left and the Boomers went down a notch,” Andersen said.
“I want to keep the Boomers’ level high and make sure Australian basketball stays strong.”
Unlike the Opals, who had to finish in the top four at the women’s Asia Cup to make the FIBA Women’s World Cup, the Boomers don’t have anything to play for in Lebanon except the pride of winning the title.
But Andersen will put it on his side to claim the trophy and set the standards for the first qualifying window, which comes up in November during the NBL season.
The NBL has added breaks in November and just before the finals in February to accommodate the FIBA windows.
“It’s a learning curve for them but we want to teach them all the good things that come along with being a Boomer,” Andersen said.
“You get a good handle on how things will be, we want everything to be the same whether we have our NBA guys or our NBL guys in the team.
“We are trying to implement that so everyone is on the same page.”
Andersen and two-time Olympian Brad Newley will lead the side along with veteran power forward Daniel Kickert.
But the Boomers will also need a big boost from their guards with Cameron Gliddon, Mitch McCarron, Mitch Creek, Todd Blanchfield, Mitch Norton and Jason Cadee highly skilled NBL players but inexperienced international performers, although all have played for their country at junior international level.
Young big men Nicholas Kay, Angus Brandt and Matt Hodgson could also surprise with their tenacity around the rim.
The Japan game could be the toughest clash of the tournament with fellow Group D sides Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei not expected to challenge the Boomers.
Andersen has imparted as much wisdom as he can to his young teammates, telling them to sacrifice for the team and be calm when the pressure is on.
“It’s not like when you are with your club and have a free licence [to shoot],” Andersen said.
“In the Boomers it is more about the team, playing hard in the limited minutes you have.
“No one will play 30 or 40 minutes a game, when you are with the national team it is about being receptive to one guy having a good night and you maybe not having a good night but still doing your job for the team.
“It’s about putting the team first, then riding the waves when you have a good game and keeping the team first when it is not going your way.”
If the Boomers top their group they will go straight into the quarter-finals, if not they need to finish second or third in the group to make an elimination crossover game against the second or third side in Group C.
The Boomers, along with New Zealand, are the new boys in Asia and while Andersen admits he didn’t have Lebanon on his travel list, now he is there he wants the team to leave with a trophy.
“It’s always fun to get one up on the Kiwis but winning an Asia Cup would be another trophy to put in the cabinet,” Andersen said.
“The target is always to win and when you play for the Boomers winning makes the experience much more fun.”
Fox Sports will show all the Boomers games live, along with a number of other matches from the FIBA Asia Cup.
The Boomers’ schedule for FIBA Asia Cup:
August 8: Australia v Japan 11pm [all AEST]
August 10: Australia v Hong Kong 11pm
August 12: Australia v Chinese Taipei 11pm
August 17: Quarter-finals
August 19: Semi-finals
August 20: Bronze, Gold medal games
Boomers roster: David Andersen, Todd Blanchfield, Angus Brandt, Jason Cadee, Mitch Creek, Cameron Gliddon, Matt Hodgson, Nick Kay, Daniel Kickert, Mitch McCarron, Brad Newley, Mitch Norton.