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In the huddle with Andrej Lemanis

Despite having only a few days to bring his side together and train as one unit, NBL All Australian Head Coach Andrej Lemanis is relishing the opportunity to take on the Chinese National Team this week in a three-game series. “Whenever you get the opportunity to play international basketball it’s exciting. It is a growth experience for players whether they are young or experienced. I’ve always found that players come back from international environments with an improvement in their game and their mentality.” When asked about whether players would have seen the side as a chance to make the Rio Olympics Lemanis admitted it could be seen as a wise move. “If they said yes in order to put themselves in front of the national coach and show me what they can do, well that’s not bad thinking really is it? From a team perspective you don’t necessarily take the 12 most skilled players you take the 12 best who fill a team and if they think they can show me a skill they have that fits with the team for Rio that’s great." The side fields players from across the League including six players who feature in the extended Boomers squad named in March; new Brisbane recruits Daniel Kickert and Adam Gibson, along with Todd Blanchfield (Melbourne United), Mitch Norton (Illawarra Hawks), Clint Steindl and Lucas Walker (Adelaide 36ers). The series is an integral part of the NBL’s focus on strategic growth and expansion and Lemanis said it was exciting to be involved at the beginning of the journey. “Obviously from a League perspective if we can get in there and showcase ourselves in the Asian market which can only lead to further expansion of the NBL in that market that can only be a positive for everybody involved.” “The NBL has future plans to get into the Asian market and while Individual clubs have tried it before, this is the first time the League as a whole has done it, which I think is smart to go in there and expand the opportunities for us as a group.” “If we represent ourselves well there and give the Asian market a taste of what they can get if they get involved in NBL in the long term then we can only help the future direction.” The CPA Australia NBL All Australian Team play against the Chinese National Team this week starting on the 6th of May in the city of Nanning followed by games in Guangzhou on the 8th of May and Beijing on the 10th of May. “Its been interesting watching their games from the Asian Championships last year which they won. They’re playing at a good intensity level at the moment and the guys that we’ll be playing will be playing for their lives for Olympic selection. I think what we’re going to get is a group that is pretty desperate, that will play every possession flat out and perhaps a little frantic at times as well,” Lemanis said. “We have played against the Asians a lot, not only as the Boomers but NBL teams going over to Asia and playing against Team China or another CBA team so the Chinese style of play is pretty familiar to the guys.” “We’re going to get a team that is very aggressive offensively, they’re very good off the dribble, creating advantages for themselves and then moving the ball. They shoot the three ball particularly well and they’re really aggressive defensively and try to turn it into a pretty frantic pace. That’s something that we need to be mindful of and play the game at the tempo that we want to play it at.”
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