'We haven't qualified for anything': Goorjian wants Boomers to seize qualifying opportunity

The Boomers' squad for this weekend's FIBA World Cup Qualifying window may have plenty of new faces, but head coach Brian Goorjian is hoping multiple members of the squad can put their hand up for major tournaments moving forward.

While the historic bronze medal in Tokyo feels like yesterday, the 2023 FIBA World Cup and 2024 Paris Olympics are fast approaching, with Matthew Dellavedova the only player from Tokyo suiting up this weekend.

"You wear that medal and it's yours for the rest of your life but it's in the past now and we're moving forward," Goorjian responded when asked about the makeup of future squads.

"We haven't qualified for anything. We've got to start taking these windows seriously and in order to do that, the guys that play in this have to have some sort of reward. I'm watching this very, very closely and there's nothing more I would like than a couple of these guys to knock out a couple of the others and have an opportunity to play in this.

"We need our top, top, top NBL players in this to get to where we need to go. This is a test, and I would like to reward a couple of these guys moving forward."

Jack White was one of the names highlighted by Goorjian, with the Melbourne United forward set to jump straight on a plane after Sunday night's game to join the Denver Nuggets for NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

"Jack White is just emerging. As I walked into camp, I knew he was a very good player but he's better than I thought," Goorjian said.

Just 12 months removed from a ruptured achilles, White displayed cautious enthusiasm about a future with the Boomers program.

"I hope so," he said. "I really haven't been thinking that far ahead. It feels like this has happened so quickly after coming back from the achilles. I'm just really trying to enjoy every moment I have being healthy and enjoying the game. That would be unbelievable if I could be a part of those teams. I've always wanted to be an Olympian since I started taking basketball seriously. It's such a surreal thing to consider."

Thon Maker, a former top-10 NBA draft selection has his eyes on the Boomers and a return to the NBA, using a recent success story of another Australian big as an example to how the program can boost the profile of elite talents.

"A great example is Jock Landale, he did it with the Spurs. There's an opportunity for me as well. That's not my focus, my focus is for us to win, us as a unit to get better every single day and me personally getting better every single day," Maker said.

The three-game window marks the first time Maker has been on Australian soil since before the pandemic, with the big man grabbing the rare opportunity to play in front of family on home soil.

"I couldn't wait (to be back in the green and gold)," he said. "The last time I was here was the pre World Cup qualifiers (in 2019). I had the choice of playing in the Summer League or coming here or doing vet camps with some of the NBA teams and I chose to do this. I promised Goorj last year that I was going to do it if my name was called again because I turned down the Olympics."

The three-game slate will also reunite Maker with Matthew Dellavedova, with the pair playing together in stints with the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers in recent years.

"Me and Delly, we're forever brothers, wherever we go in our lives. We've been together so long, Cleveland, Milwaukee, here so the chemistry is always going to be here. We already have the sets down but now it's the trickery of it, we're thinking the game even more. I already know what he's thinking, and he knows what I'm thinking."

Maker also revealed that he is planning to join the Boomers for next month's FIBA Asia Cup, to be held in Indonesia.

"I've seen enough. Thon is tremendous defensively, he's a great rebounder. They've got bigs and he's going to be a real important piece on both ends of the floor. He's a great defender and rebounder," Goorjian said of Maker.

While Australia's NBA contingent wasn't available for the window, Goorjian pointed to this offseason being the only clear time for the U.S. based players to get an extended break, before those major tournaments roll around next year.

"The guys that have put their hand up to play, there was no arm twisting, it's guys that really want to play right now and represent their country and then the challenge has been the five-day window and playing strong competition."

The FIBA World Cup Qualifying window tips off on Thursday night from John Cain Arena in Melbourne. Coverage starts at 6.30pm live on ESPN and Kayo.