Boomers visit can trigger grassroots growth

Wildcats guard Damian Martin (right) battles it out with US star Kevin Durant at the Rio Olympics.
Wildcats guard Damian Martin (right) battles it out with US star Kevin Durant at the Rio Olympics.

THE head of Basketball WA says Perth’s first slice of international hoops in five years is the icing on the cake of a state-wide boom within the sport.

Chief executive Rob Clement is hoping this week’s two-game series between Australia and Canada at Perth Arena triggers another wave of interest in basketball at grassroots level.

Clement said the sport was experiencing extraordinary growth in WA and he believed the Boomers’ double-header could produce a further spike.

“We’ve got over 45,000 members and that’s not including all our programs in schools and underage programs. There’s another 10,000 kids exposed to basketball through Aussie Hoops, which is our equivalent of Auskick,” he said.

“Another 55,000 are playing it in local recreation centres in social formats which aren’t directly affiliated with us.”

While much has been made of Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons’ decision to sit out the exhibition games and World Cup campaign, the squad travelling to Perth will be Australia’s strongest in years.

Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs), Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz) and Aron Baynes (Phoenix Suns) are established NBA players, Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Jonah Bolden (Philadelphia 76ers) are capable rotation players in the best league in the world and Andrew Bogut is a former number one draft pick with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Matthew Dellavedova after the Boomers’ nailbiting loss to Spain in the men’s basketball bronze medal playoff at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Picture: Getty Images.

Clement said the two games were a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for locals to see some of the best players the country had ever produced.

“It’s not often you get the quality of the team they’ve put together. Basketball is going through a bit of a rejuvenation at the moment and this will only help to expose the community and kids to some of the opportunities and stature of where the Boomers stand,” he said.

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With the sport’s health well-assured, Clement said their next goal was to fully capitalise on the growth and ensure they could cater to the increased demand.

“We’re finding a lot of our associations around the metropolitan areas are full. One of the challenges for us in next 5-10 years is to match the facility developments along with the growth in popularity sport because indoor courts are at a premium,” he said.

The two Boomers’ games are their first in Perth since they hosted China at Challenge Stadium in 2014 as part of the Sino-Australia Challenge, with a squad which featured current Wildcat Clint Steindl and former Perth players Angus Brandt and Tom Jervis.

Canada will be led by Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse, fresh off leading them to their maiden NBA title in June.

Their squad is headlined by NBA players Cory Joseph (Sacremento Kings) and Kelly Olynyk (Miami Heat).

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