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Damian Martin overcomes finger scare to join Australian Boomers in FIBA World Cup qualifiers

Australian Boomers guard Damian Martin admits he almost missed the team's trip to Taipei after dislocating his finger against Melbourne United last Sunday.

The Rio Olympian popped his finger while playing for Perth Wildcats at Hisense Arena. And he faced a race against time to get the finger scanned the next day and earn a medical clearance so he could fly with the Boomers for their first FIBA World Cup qualifier against Chinese Taipei on Friday night.

Damian Martin popped his finger while playing for Perth Wildcats. Photo: AAP
"I had a restless night as I hadn't had an MRI on the finger and on my wrist, which I hurt during the game," Martin said

"But Basketball Australia and Melbourne United's medical teams got me in quickly the following morning and I got the all-clear in time to get to the airport – I was nervous, but now I'm over the moon to be here.

"It's my wedding ring finger and my wife won't be too happy, as I can't wear the ring, as it's quite swollen – that ring will need to be re-sized."

Regardless of any swelling, Martin is to join fellow Olympian Chris Goulding in returning to the Boomers for the first time since Rio, while Warrnambool player Nathan Sobey will make his national team debut on Friday night.

The Boomers then fly to Adelaide to play Japan on Monday night, with more than 5000 tickets sold and sales expected to pick up in the coming days.

Taipei's stadium has long been sold out and the Boomers start as big favourites to win the game and their pool, although Japan and the Philippines will be difficult opponents.

FIBA's new qualifying system mirrors the soccer system, with the Boomers playing two games during international windows that come up every four months.

NBA players are exempt from selection, so it will be NBL-based stars such as Martin who have to lead the team through qualifying before fighting for a place at the World Cup in China in 2019.

That all starts in Taipei on Friday.

"I love it," Martin said. "It's different to any Boomers campaign I've been a part of before, in that we walk off the plane, start training, do some scouting and then play an opponent we have never seen before.

"You have to try and learn your teammates and a new opponent, but that challenge excites you – I've never been to Taipei before and the game is a sellout.

"Then we go to Adelaide and I can't wait, as I've never had a South Australian crowd cheering for me."

The Boomers play Chinese Taipei in Taipei on Friday at 10pm (AEDT), then host Japan in Adelaide on Monday at 7pm. Both games live on Fox Sports

Author: Roy Ward, Sydney Morning Herald
Source: http://www.smh.com.au/sport/basketball/damian-martin-overcomes-finger-scare-to-join-australian-boomers-in-fiba-world-cup-qualifiers-20171123-gzr8ub.html

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