Patty Mills calls for BA to invest in Boomers FIBA World Cup lead up
NBA championship winner Patty Mills says Basketball Australia must invest more in the Boomers if they are to become world champions.
The Boomers know their full side can challenge for the FIBA World Cup in China later this year and for a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but Mills revealed on Tuesday the team and BA were struggling to "bridge the gap" between the off-court support they receive in the NBA and what is on offer for the upcoming campaigns.
Patty Mills.Credit:USA Today
Mills, a three-time Olympian, added Australia's first NBA All-Star Ben Simmons was the latest player to raise concerns and with his status for the World Cup campaign uncertain, BA needed to do its utmost to lure Simmons to play.
"It goes without saying that there is a significant gap between the NBA and Basketball Australia in terms of catering to the players’ needs so that we can perform at a high level night in, night out," Mills said.
"It has nothing to do with money. We don't play for Australia to get paid. We play for the pride of our country and the opportunity to create history and be the best team in the world.
"In all honesty there are a few concerns that Basketball Australia either don't want to or can't cater to these basic needs and the legitimate concerns he [Simmons] has and rightly so.
"They are concerns we have all had for some time and had to deal with these concerns mid-tournament before.
"In a small way their position is understandable. They have never had 11, 12 NBA guys rolling into a camp before. Half of us are NBA veterans as well."
The Boomers host two marquee lead-up games against Team USA at Marvel Stadium on August 22 and 24 which would likely see the two nations field their World Cup sides with the tournament starting soon after.
Simmons faces a tricky off-season as talks are expected to begin with the Philadelphia 76ers on extending his NBA rookie contract, a deal which could be worth as much as $US 158 million, while it's also believed talks will begin on his lucrative Nike deal which should also grow substantially.
Boomers coaches know a final call on Simmons won’t be made until the off-season and he is not expected to play if both deals aren’t completed.
BA and the players agreed to a vastly improved Collective Bargaining Agreement late last year which runs until 2022 and offers much better conditions including best practice travel arrangements, 25 percent of revenue from key events and two-year notice of the expected schedule of games.
But before every major event, teams, coaches and BA staff have to agree on a budget for the lead-up to the event.
The budget is still being sorted out behind closed doors and the NBA players have been left frustrated after a number of suggestions were knocked back due to cost. Mills opted not to elaborate on which suggestions were rejected.
BA acting chief executive Paul Maley said they took the concerns seriously.
"Basketball Australia has regular dialogue with our overseas-based players regarding our national teams and player selection for upcoming international matches and tournaments," Maley said in a statement.
"As an organisation we acknowledge our players' feedback and our collective desire to continually improve our national team programs, in order to fulfil our ambition of providing a high performance environment for this year's FIBA World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics."
Mills was speaking to Australian journalists on Tuesday to promote the USA clash with limited tickets for both games still available and he expressed his concerns when asked about Simmons.
"My personal stance to BA is this dude is an NBA All-Star right now, we need to do everything we can do to cater to his needs and make sure he is a part of our team," Mills said.
"He is probably going to be the best Australian player of all time. We have a very clear goal and we see him playing a major role in achieving that goal. We can't in any way jeopardise that.
"Speaking amongst the boys, everyone is on that same page."
The Boomers keep in regular contact through their own private social media groups and the fourth-place finish at the Rio Olympics, without Simmons, showed how close they are to the best in the world.
Simmons hasn't played for the Boomers since making his debut in 2013. He wasn't selected for the last FIBA World Cup in 2014 and hasn't played since due to US commitments or injuries.
Eleven Australians have played in the NBA this season while Andrew Bogut has starred in his first season back in the NBL.
Mills can't wait to see two 50,000 strong crowds for those USA games but with at least four NBA championship winners in the likely Boomers squad, the team knows they need every advantage if they are to take Australia to a World Cup or gold medal.
"I don't want to dwell on these concerns and take away from the upside of playing Team USA," Mills said.
"We have done our part as players to get to a level that has been acknowledged, we have 11, 12 players in the NBA and with significant roles so there is that significant gap between the NBA and BA.
"We have upped our game in terms of the level we are playing at and we expect the other side of our team to do the same."
Source: Read Full Article