Australian players celebrate after their World Cup qualifying win over Japan.
Australian players celebrate after their World Cup qualifying win over Japan. DAVID MARIUZ

Boomers coach backs on-court chemistry

AUSTRALIAN men's basketball coach Andrej Lemanis has praised his squad's attitude and commitment to the national cause as they prepare for a crucial World Cup qualifier against the Philippines.

The winner of Thursday night's clash in Melbourne will take sole possession of top spot in Asian Group B after both teams won their opening two qualifiers back in November.

"It's interesting under this new format as we haven't seen each other for three months,” Lemanis said on Wednesday.

"Then we come together and we've got two practice sessions leading into the game.

"Yesterday was a little clunky as guys just found their way and got their rhythm back with one another but I thought today was a good session.”

Lemanis is looking to continue building a strong team culture following the Boomers' success in the 2017 Asia Cup.

Andrej Lemanis watches on during a Boomers game.
Andrej Lemanis watches on during a Boomers game. JORGE ZAPATA

"There's a special chemistry about when they get in the green and gold that just permeates throughout the group,” he said.

"They want to do well for one another, they want to do well for their country and having that selflessness helps the group gel and move the ball and get in the right spots defensively.”

While Australia will take a significant height advantage into Thursday night's match, Lemanis has focused on tempering the Philippines' up-tempo style of play as part of his game plan.

"It's a real challenge that they bring to the table,” Lemanis said about their opponents' ability to push the pace in transition.

"You can't be giving up lay-ups and fouls when you are trying to deal with them.

"There are some things that they do offensively that really exploit what you would call traditional defensive rotations so we've just got to be smart in that space.”

Daniel Kickert drives to the basket in the World cup qualifier against Japan.
Daniel Kickert drives to the basket in the World cup qualifier against Japan. DAVID MARIUZ

Guard Chris Goulding has been ruled out of Thursday night's match after picking up an ankle injury with Melbourne United on the eve of the qualifiers, with Mitch Norton taking his place in the squad.

The Boomers also play Taiwan on Sunday at Melbourne's Margaret Court Arena.

- AAP


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