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Selection surprises for Boomers squad

Australian Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis has called in some veterans and a rising star as he looks to spread the minutes in the national team's two FIBA World Cup qualifiers in Melbourne next month.

Veterans David Andersen, Alex Loughton, Adam Gibson, Daniel Johnson and Kevin Lisch plus guard Anthony Drmic and NBL rookie Isaac Humphries are among the inclusions in the 24-man squad for the meetings with the Philippines and Chinese Taipei at Margaret Court Arena on February 22 and 25.

The Boomers are on top of Group B after two matches and while the Philippines shape as a tough opponent, Australia should comfortably beat Chinese Taipei judging from their big away win over the side in the previous window.

The February games come just before the NBL semi-finals, with the league to have a 10-day pause as Australian and New Zealand players are lost to international duties.

Lemanis has hinted he will mix up his squad across both games to avoid tiring players and to test others out.

Alex Loughton (right) has been rewarded for his impressive form in the NBL. Photo: AAP
He cannot call up NBA-based Australians for any window during the US season so will again look to his NBL players to do the job.

"It is important to note that under the new system, the team can change between the Philippines and Chinese Taipei games," Lemanis said.

"This new FIBA format requires a commitment from the guys to the greater good of the national team and I've been humbled by the tremendous attitude and commitment every player has shown in that regard."

Loughton is the biggest surprise considering he has rarely been sighted at Boomers level in recent years but strong performances for Cairns Taipans sees him earn a call-up.

Lemanis said NBL form and the challenges of matching up with two "unique" Asian nations led him to make some new selections.

"Continuity is important in the team, especially with the limited preparation time in the FIBA qualification windows," Lemanis said.

"This is why the Asia Cup campaign was so important [last year] – it was there that we had the opportunity to build on who we are as a team and having a core group of those players available for each of the windows is key.

"In addition, current NBL form is taken into consideration, as is past performance at international level, injury status and the unique challenges of the upcoming opponents."

Australian Boomers squad: David Andersen,Todd Blanchfield, Angus Brandt, Jason Cadee, Mitch Creek, Anthony Drmic, Adam Gibson, Cameron Gliddon, Chris Goulding, Matt Hodgson, Isaac Humphries, Daniel Johnson, Nick Kay, Daniel Kickert, Kevin Lisch, Alex Loughton, Damian Martin, Mitch McCarron, Brad Newley, Mitch Norton, Nathan Sobey, Clint Steindl, Jesse Wagstaff, Lucas Walker.

Author: Roy Ward, Sydney Morning Herald

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