The Australian Boomers are getting a huge boost after NBA star Patty Mills signed up to join the squad in this weekend’s Olympic qualifiers.
Mills will be suiting up for the Australian national team as it faces the New Zealand Tall Blacks for the Rio Olympics qualifying series. The San Antonio Spurs point guard will be replacing another NBA superstar, Dante Exum, after the latter suffered a knee injury during the Boomers’ European Tour, the Sydney Morning Herald noted.
Mills wasn’t initially considered for the team after being unavailable during the European Tour. According to SMH, the Spurs had required the athlete to sit out of the game series to undergo rehab for his troubled shoulder. However, with Exum out with an injury, Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis needed another PG to takeover the slot the Utah Jazz player left. Mills quickly answered the call.
The 26-year-old guard from Canberra, Australia has already arrived in Australia, posting an image of him at the Melbourne airport.
“I’m looking forward to joining my Boomers teammates for this very important qualification series against New Zealand,” Mills said, noted the Herald Sun. “Playing for my country has always been an honor for me…My focus now is helping my Boomers teammates qualify for Rio 2016.”
Coach Lemanis also believes Mills is the best person to join the team after Exum’s untimely exit.
“Patty is the best-placed player to come into the team quickly. He’s an elite player, an NBA champion and seasoned at international play and importantly, knows the Boomers’ system and style of play,” Lemanis said, noted SMH.
Aside from Mills, three other NBA players will be joining the Boomers during the qualifiers, including Andre Bogut from current champions Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Matthew Dellavedova, and Chicago Bulls forward Cameron Bairstow.
Mills is expected to offer his experience and offensive prowess to the team. Part of the 2014 NBA Championship team, Mills will be joining the Boomers’ practice on Tuesday.