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Veteran Daniel Kickert says he will always serve as Boomers prepare for FIBA Asia Cup

When the Boomers call, Daniel Kickert always answers.

The veteran power forward has been around the Boomers' program since 2004 and, whether he has made various teams or not, the 34-year-old has continued to play his role.

Brisbane forward Daniel Kickert will be called on to stretch the floor with his outside shooting when the Boomers start their FIBA Asia Cup campaign against Japan on Tuesday. Photo: Joshua Paterson
So when Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis called him into the squad for the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon, he happily took his place.

The Boomers' NBA and European players have been excused from this event to rest after last year's Olympic campaign, so the likes of Kickert, Brad Newley and David Andersen will lead the way in Beirut.

Lemanis also has excused any players with injury concerns, meaning Rio Olympians Chris Goulding, Kevin Lisch and Damian Martin were not selected.

"It's always country first, then club – it generally goes in that order, and I think that is how it should be with any athlete," Kickert said.

"I think it's crazy if you don't put that stuff first. I'll jump at every opportunity that I can."

The tournament starts on Tuesday night [AEST] with Australia playing Japan and, while it has no bearing on world cup or Olympic qualification, Kickert said the Boomers would love to establish themselves as the top team in Asia.

"There is an expectation on us now," Kickert said.

"Our stars from the NBA have raised the bar over the last few years and it is on us to maintain that and represent the country and basketball here.

"We want to be the best team in Asia. We think we should be.

"It will not be a walk in the park and coming home with some hardware is always pretty special. Those opportunities don't come around too often where you can walk into an international competition and possibly come home with a championship.

"That in itself will be pretty exciting."

The Asia Cup will be the Boomers' first exposure to Asian competition and it will be vital experience before FIBA World Cup qualification begins in November after which the national team will play two games every four months in set windows.

With NBA teams exempt from releasing players during their season, Kickert and the other NBL based Boomers will have to steer the team through qualifying.

Kickert said the locally-based Boomers were up to the job, even with much of the side in their first major tournament.

Kickert's outside shooting should be a key part of the offence, especially in the early games.

"My first Boomers camp was in 2004, so it has been a long 13 years and it's been a great journey. I'm really happy to be where I am and still able to do this and help those younger guys come through," Kickert said.

"I'm going to hold on to that Australian jersey for as long as I can, play for as many years as I can and grab every opportunity that comes by."

The Boomers would love to claim the title and once they return the new NBL season will be only a month away.

Kickert's Brisbane Bullets also have been invited to play an NBA preseason game against the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix on October 14.

Kickert has played all over the world, but he is especially excited to test himself against NBA competition.

"Honestly, I never saw this happening," Kickert said.

"I was in Europe for so long that I would watch the teams I had played against, the Real Madrids or CSKA Moscows, play against NBA sides and I was intrigued by it and loved watching those games.

"I could kind of weigh myself up against the other guys on the court and I've always thought it would be great to be a part of – now that opportunity is here and it's pretty exciting."

The FIBA Asia Cup begins in Beirut on Tuesday night with Fox Sports to show games live.

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.

Author: Roy Ward
Source: http://www.smh.com.au/sport/basketball/veteran-daniel-kickert-says-he-will-always-serve-as-boomers-prepare-for-fiba-asia-cup-20170804-gxpku2.html

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