The Australian men’s basketball team has pushed Russia to the limits in a captivating gold medal match at the World University Games in Kazan.
Australia, against all odds, got within two points in the final quarter before succumbing to the host country by 7-points to lose 74-81.
Australian Boomer’s head coach, and coach of the development side, Andrej Lemanis said the 12-day competition was a priceless opportunity for the emerging Australian basketballers – and for himself as newly appointed national coach.
“We have learnt a lot about ourselves I think as a team, but as a basketball nation and how you need to play internationally. That has been great learning both from them and for me,” Lemanis said.
“Obviously it is fantastic for our men to medal at this level. One of the facts that isn’t appreciated at home, and I know I didn’t fully understand it, is just how impressive this tournament is and how much alike it is to an Olympics.”
The belief and spirit that the Australian Uniroo’s team showed in their come from behind victory over Serbia in the semi-final was on display. When things got tough, Cameron Bairstow (21) and Clint Steindl (21) again stood up.
“When ever we got down, we haven’t been rattled by things. We always believed that we could give ourselves the chance if we played the right way,” Lemanis said.
“For us to go through and beat basketball powerhouses like the USA, Lithuania and Serbia and play Russia in Russia. What a fantastic experience. “
“I am really, really proud of this group. The way we have been able to build on the back of a four day training camp and to be able to get our group to gel… and battle for one another and continue to battle out of tough situations.”
The full strength Russian outfit was led by fresh NBA-draftee Sergey Karasev, who put the burners on in the final half to score 10-points and pull his side to victory in front of a raucous home crowd.
The highest point scorer of the tournament’s influence included a clutch three-point buzzer beater that sent the crowd crazy on the brink of three quarter time.
Lemanis, a three-time premiership coach at the New Zealand Breakers said the silver medal meant that Australian basketball is on the right track.
“To give ourselves a good shot at winning a medal is really, really pleasing and it shows good signs for us going forward.”
“If our goal is to prepare players to play at an Olympic games, there is no better opportunity to re create that than this tournament.”
Australian Chef De Mission, Martin Roberts was ecstatic with the boys medal.
“This is a fantastic result for Australia. I have watched this team develop over the past three Universiades. I'm so happy for the men to do so well under the pressure of this competition.
“Under Andrej's leadership, I think this team will add so much to the Boomers pathway. Just as the women's team has done for the Opals."
Australian 22-year-old Cameron Bairstow, who studies at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, was Australia’s most influential player for the tournament and finished the 8-games with 102 points, while Jason Cadee, one of the NBL’s rising stars averaged 12.3 a game for 98-points.
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Media contact – Kazan, Russia
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