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Australian Boomers coach Brian Goorjian has taken aim at his critics and says he will be back to lead the team to Paris 2024.
The Boomers ended their FIBA World Cup campaign with a 100-84 win over Georgia on Sunday night, but will miss out on the quarter-finals after losses to Germany and Slovenia.
Boomers coach Brian Goorjian.Credit: Getty Images
They finished with a 3-2 [win-loss] record and both Goorjian and his players faced criticism after the Boomers missed the medal rounds at a major tournament for the first time since the 2014 World Cup.
Goorjian, whose contract was reportedly to coach from the Tokyo Olympics to this World Cup, was adamant when asked about his future, saying he was “100 per cent” committed and preparing to coach the team in Paris.
“I’ve read a lot and respect everyone’s opinion, but what I said to the group inside is that I’m not embarrassed and I’ll go back to Melbourne with my head high,” Goorjian said in the post-game press conference.
He added he had “a lot to say because I know what is going on back home” in reference to the criticism.
Goorjian made some tough calls in leaving out veterans Aron Baynes, Matthew Dellavedova and several other players from previous campaigns as the new generation led by Josh Giddey and Dyson Daniels had their first taste of international play.
“You look at Giddey and say ‘What is that going to be?’ – it’s going to be really special,” Goorjian said.
“I like the guys we are introducing to this. You are caught in two minds on a few things [tactically coming in], but we are going to go down [playing with] pace and with a clear vision. I think we have the most upside of anyone.”
Giddey, 20, became the youngest player to lead the Boomers in scoring at a major tournament, averaging 19.5 points, and he also led the team in assists with six per game; Daniels, also 20, was brought in for experience for the future.
Boomers stars Josh Giddey (3) and Patty Mills (5) share a moment in their team’s win over Georgia.Credit: AP
“I feel that this isn’t a continuation of Rose Gold,” Goorjian said, referring to the term used for the team’s bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I knew when I re-signed to come back to this that I’d have to do some nasty stuff and we would be in a position of change.
“As this group came in, I do think we had a chance to win a medal, but I knew with change, with inexperience, that style of play and playing together was a process that would take some time.
“You look at the line-up tonight. We had three new guys who started who were major pieces and had the ball in their hands so to say the offence isn’t fluid or you are missing some defensive rotations – that comes from playing together.
“How I feel and how the group feels is that there is an exciting day ahead.”
Boomers forward Joe Ingles.Credit: Getty Images
Veteran forward Joe Ingles also made it clear he saw a role for himself at the Olympic Games.
“It’s an exciting group, a great group of guys and you will have to kill me before you get me out of here,” Ingles said.
The Boomers coach also took the chance to correct a misconception that he could have used his head coach’s challenge in the loss to Slovenia to earn a potential fifth foul on NBA superstar Luka Doncic, who had barged through Patty Mills; Mills was called for a blocking foul.
“We have nine NBA players, but there is a process to playing international basketball,” Goorjian said.
“So I’ll use [ESPN commentator and NBA assistant coach] Trevor Gleeson as an example, a fellow coach. He was critical of a game situation that was very, very important with Luka on four fouls and not reviewing Patty’s foul which was very questionable and could have been overturned.
“But you can’t do that in this tournament. It’s not the NBA [where such a review could happen]. There is no play there. I’m a little wound up as you can tell, but I’m fired up for the next challenge.”
Goorjian plans to take a break from club coaching and focus on self-improvement and watching his Boomers players after news broke over the weekend that the Asian team he was coaching had suddenly folded.
“It was a shock as I was ready to jump to that, but it’s a positive right now as I can spend time watching the NBL games, watching the NBA games and having a total focus on this last shot,” Goorjian said.
“I’ve done year-round for a long period of time. Now I get an eight to nine-month break to focus on getting better and the Boomers team so I’m taking the high road on that. I’m disappointed about the Bay Area Dragons, it was a special group of guys.”
Boomers win last game as Mills aims for Paris
Earllier, the Boomers bounced off the canvas to end their FIBA World Cup campaign on a high with the 100-84 victory over Georgia.
Patty Mills scored 13 of his 19 points in a trademark second-quarter scoring spree, while Dante Exum (18 points, four assists) and Duop Reath (16 points) showed they are growing into key roles ahead of Paris 2024.
Patty Mills drives to the basket against Georgia.Credit: Getty Images
Exum was on the floor for much of the Boomers’ best passages of play and stood up in the third term to help extinguish a run from the opposition, while Reath nailed his outside shots and made some strong plays around the basket.
Josh Giddey ended his first World Cup campaign with another strong performance, scoring 15 points. He ends the campaign as the youngest player to lead the Boomers in scoring at a major tournament.
“It’s definitely a disappointing result for a major tournament, but it was important to us as a playing group that we came out, finished this thing right and with a win,” Mills told broadcasters.
“The positives for us is that we have the Olympics 10 months away and to keep building from what we started six weeks ago into a really strong Olympics – you haven’t seen the best of us.”
Veteran forward Joe Ingles found his form as well with 10 points, five rebounds and six assists.
Georgia looked and played like a frustrated team after falling short of the quarter-finals, earning multiple technical fouls and having bench guard Luka Liklikadze ejected in the final quarter.
The Boomers cast aside their shooting woes from earlier games, shooting 14 of 31 from the three-point line including 10 in the first half, but their offence still had too many flat patches with 11 of their 15 turnovers coming in the first half.
The World Cup quarter-finals begin on Tuesday, with all finals live on ESPN and Kayo Freebies.
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