Baby Boomers set for Asia Cup qualifier | Ralph Lauren

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A week ago the Boomers named an Olympic squad headlined by NBA superstars Ben Simmons, Patty Mills and Joe Ingles.

Next Saturday, in one of sport’s more incredible COVID-19 twists, a group of mostly teenagers – some still at school – will wear the Boomers jersey in an Asia Cup qualifier against New Zealand in Cairns.

NBA players are rarely available for Asia Cup fixtures but even NBL players have been granted an exemption from this hastily-arranged fixture as they prepare to gather in Melbourne for the NBL Cup.

Quarantine requirements have also made it impossible for either team to draw on any other overseas professionals.

Regardless of the result, the countries are likely to qualify for August’s Asia Cup, where Australia are defending champions, as the top two teams in their pool.

But with FIBA willing to penalise teams who don’t fulfil their obligations – Canada were fine roughly $250,000 last year for skipping a qualifier – Basketball Australia have turned to their baby Boomers to ensure the show goes on.

Alex Toohey is the youngest at 16 in a squad boasting just one player born before the year 2000 in Matt Kenyon, who played in the NBA’s G-League last year.

All players are products of BA’s Centre of Excellence or NBA Global Academy, both based in Canberra at the Australian Institute of Sport.

Power forward and COE graduate Hunter Goodrick is studying business at the University of South Dakota but opted to stay home in NSW and study remotely during the pandemic in what’s now proved a brilliant move.

“I just got a call from Capes (coach Adam Caporn) about the whole idea of it and obviously just couldn’t believe it,” he told AAP.

“The last two years have been so weird and it’s affected sport so much.

“I opted to stay home and we’ve just been putting our head down and preparing, but not knowing what is going to come up.”

Australia’s best players have almost exclusively forged a path through the COE and it’s not lost on Goodrick.

“Ingles, Delly (Matthew Dellavedova), Patty, (Andrew) Bogut, (Aron) Baynes are all such role models,” he said.

“The first thing I thought about was all the legends who have worn that jersey and how much it means.

“We strive to what they’re doing now in the NBA and we stay connected with them because their legacy is still here in Canberra, so it’s really special.

“There’s a bit of pressure and the enormity of it will probably hit me during the game but right now I’m still just so stoked on it.”

BOOMERS SQUAD: Taran Armstrong, Hunter Clarke, Dyson Daniels, Hunter Goodrick, Matt Kenyon, Jack McWilliams, David Okwera, Tyrese Proctor, Patrick Ryan, Reyne Smith, Alex Toohey, Harry Wessels.


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