Australia Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis has maintained the faith in Southland Sharks forward Nick Kay, retaining the Hawks big-man in his squad for next month’s FIBA World Cup qualifiers.
Kay was part of the young Boomers roster that cut a swathe through their rivals to claim Australia’s first Asia Cup trophy in August.
That triumph was enough for Lemanis to stick with the bulk of that squad ahead of clashes with Chinese Taipei and Japan, the second of which will be played in Adelaide on November 27.
Kay said he’s determined to make the most of his second chance to pull on the green and gold.
“Andrej made it pretty clear from the start that it was going to be pretty fluid in terms of people coming in and out,” Kay said.
“Whether you were in the team before or not it was always going to be best guys who get picked.
“I wasn’t sure which way it was going to go and I kind of expected not to be in it so to have the chance to prove myself again obviously means I’m going all right and I went well over there before.
“Every chance you get to go out and play in the green and gold is a great opportunity and you’ve just got to give it your best every time and make the most of it.”
Adelaide trio Mitch Creek, Matt Hodgson and Nathan Sobey were also retained as were Sydney duo Jason Cadee and Brad Newley, Cairns pair Cam Gliddon and Mitch McCarron and Perth centre Angus Brandt.
Lemanis also added Rio Olympians Chris Goulding and Damian Martin to his back-court which saw Sharks guard Mitch Norton squeezed out of the squad named on Tuesday.
Kay is confident the youthful squad can go up a level on their second trip to Asia when they take on Chinese Taipei on November 24.
“We had a great opportunity to go over to Lebanon before so to get to go over again and actually be involved in the qualifying will be an awesome experience,” Kay said.
“I think the big reason a big core of that group’s coming back is because of that bond and the way we played together.
“They’ve also brought in a couple of guys [Martin and Goulding] who’ve been around a bit longer who are just going to bring more experience.
“Wearing that green and gold is always going to mean a lot. It doesn’t matter what time or what occasion it is, we’re all going to give it our heart and soul.
“I can’t wait to have that chance again and hopefully build on what we did over in Asia last time.”
Lemanis said the squad, which features players from all seven Australian franchises, was an endorsement of the NBL and the growth of the game on the domestic front.
“The talent that we have to select from is pleasing and reflects on the healthy state of Australian basketball and the NBL,” Lemanis said.
“There are a lot of players putting their hand up for selection.
“In the end, we have tried to keep some continuity from the FIBA Asia Cup as well as adding two Rio Olympians.”