Young guns cut as Boomers refine Paris Olympics plans

Teenager Rocco Zikarsky was one of five players cut from the Boomers squad for Paris.

Teenager Rocco Zikarsky was one of five players cut from the Boomers squad for Paris. Photo: Getty

The prospect of a Paris education for future NBA centre Rocco Zikarsky has been shut down by Boomers coach Brian Goorjian’s latest Olympics squad cull.

A 22-man list was reduced to 17 on Thursday ahead of the Paris Games from late July that will feature one of the greatest assemblies of Olympic basketball talent.

Still just 17, 220cm Brisbane Bullets forward Zikarsky had backers supporting his selection in the final 12-man squad to compete in France.

Zikarsky dominated at last month’s under-18 Albert Schweitzer Cup in Germany, collecting tournament MVP honours as Australia won the title.

He stood to gain plenty as part of the Paris contingent, even as a passenger, given it’s rare for the entire 12-man bench to see a large amount of court time at major events.

But the talented teenager, as well as college sharpshooter Johnny Furphy, fellow NBL forwards Keanu Pinder and Sam Froling and guard Will McDowell-White – just signed for German EuroLeague outfit Alba Berlin – have all been omitted.

“We won’t over-complicate things here. We’ve got an exciting group of players that all present unique strengths and advantages. Our goal is to maximise that,” Goorjian said.

Core Boomers member and NBA champion Matthew Dellavedova remains in the hunt for a recall after missing selection for the World Cup. 

Tasmanian NBL duo Will Magnay and Jack McVeigh, as well as Adelaide shooter DJ Vasiljevic all boast strong cases for inclusion.

Oklahoma City Thunder star Josh Giddey is currently waging battle with Dallas pair Dante Exum and Josh Green in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

Houston NBA centre Jock Landale missed the World Cup with injury but is back in the fray, while Dyson Daniels, Patty Mills, Duop Reath, Joe Ingles and Matisse Thybulle are all in NBA off-season mode.

Nick Kay and Xavier Cooks will join the squad from Japan, while Chris Goulding’s three-point shooting for Melbourne United also has him in the frame for a third Games.

The 17-man squad will gather in Melbourne for a training camp and games against China from July 2-5, before a final 12-man team is picked to play USA and Serbia, in Abu Dhabi, before the Games.

Serbia will be led by Nikola Jokic, while LeBron James, Steph Curry, Devin Booker, Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant, Anthony Edwards, Jayson Tatum and Kawhi Leonard will play for the US.

Australia will play an NBA-heavy Canada and potentially Spain, Slovenia or Greece – powered by superstars Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo respectively – in a tough pool stage.

“The standard of the tournament is going to be at an all-time high and we’re excited with the group that we’ve put together,” Goorjian said.

“It’s a special group and an exciting time for basketball and the country. We will get the guys together and get the energy right.

“The level of talent that the country is producing is at a new level. 

“We’ve got guys competing against the best in leagues around the world, and the NBL continues to advance as a world-class level for Australian talent.”

Revised squad

Xavier Cooks, Jock Landale, Dyson Daniels, Will Magnay, Matthew Dellavedova, Jack McVeigh, Dante Exum, Patty Mills, Josh Giddey, Duop Reath, Chris Goulding, Matisse Thybulle, Josh Green, DJ Vasiljevic, Joe Ingles, Jack White, Nick Kay.


Topics: Boomers
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