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Aussie Roundup: Creek signs NBL deal, Boomers into World Cup, Q&A with Dante Exum

Keeping up with the Australians

December is packed with NBA action, with five more games
featuring Australians going head-to-head, none bigger than the
Christmas Day matchup between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia
76ers and Aron Baynes and the Boston Celtics.

Simmons has picked up where he left off last season, leading the
Aussie charge, averaging 15.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists
per game and of course some highlights reel plays.

Meanwhile the Milwaukee Bucks are flying high in the Eastern
Conference, sitting second in the standings behind the Toronto
Raptors.

Aussies Thon Maker has shown flashes in limited minutes, while
Matthew Dellavedova has found court time hard to come by on the
competitive roster. Despite not playing a ton, Dellavedova is
finding other ways to contribute from the sidelines.

“Obviously you always wanna be out there and it’s definitely
easier to lead when you’re playing, but I can still lead from the
bench and I’m always trying to help out when it’s something I see
out there or just some general encouragement,” he told ESPN’s Nick Metallinos.

“It’s a long season and we have to be a lot better team in April
when the playoffs start than what we are now if we want to go deep.
We just have to keep working and be consistent.”

Australian National Team looking ahead after qualifying for
2019 World Cup

The Australian Boomers are one step closer to their goal of
winning a medal at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup after
securing their place in the tournament last Friday, beating Iran
76-47. They followed up the win with another victory over Qatar on
Monday night, winning 110-59.

The Aussie’s qualification record stands at 9 -1 at the top of
Group F, with no chance of falling outside the top three, who will
punch their tickets to China.

With the NBA season in full swing, the squad was made up
entirely of Australian based NBL players who impressed in the green
and gold and after a heartbreaking fourth-place finish in the 2016
Rio Olympics, the Boomers squad remains focused on their goal of a
top-three finish in China and three-time Olympian and Utah Jazz
small forward Joe Ingles was over the moon with the qualification,
speaking with NBA.com earlier this week.

“I felt we were going to [qualify], but obviously you never know
with the new system, so we’re really happy we did,” Ingles
said.

“Credit to the guys that were playing and were available to
play, to play to win, no matter what you’re doing, where you’re
playing, it’s still hard when you’re playing against other
countries that are trying to do the same thing.

“Feeling very proud now. There’s still more games to play out
now we can start preparing and getting stuff organised for the
tournament.”

Mitch Creek signs deal with NBL’s newest team

Aussie Mitch Creek has been lighting it up in the G League with
the Long Island Nets, averaging 14.7 points per game, 6.5 rebounds,
and 2.6 assists in 10 appearances this season.

While the 26-year-old strives to make an NBA roster, he was
today announced as the first marquee signing for the NBL’s newest
franchise, the South East Melbourne Phoenix, who will join the
league for the 2019/20 season.

Creek missed out on a two-way contract with the Brooklyn Nets
after joing the team in training camp, but his efforts in the G
League are doing his NBA dreams no harm.

Aussie Roundup Q&A with Utah Jazz point guard Dante
Exum

In his fourth season with the Utah Jazz, Aussie point guard
Dante Exum is looking to solidify his role in the rotation, putting
in some impressive performances off the bench, acting as the team’s
energetic spark. With Kyle Korver joining the team via trade this
week, the competition for minutes is only heating up, but Exum is
confident he can carve out his niche on both sides of the
floor.

NBA.com: You’ve done a good job when you’ve come off the
bench, picking up the tempo, is that something that has been the
role coach has bestowed upon you or is that something that you take
upon yourself?

Dante Exum: it’s just something that we kind of
mutually agreed on, that’s a way that I can impact the game. That’s
the one thing that I’m trying to do when I come in and impact the
game straight away and that’s definitely one of the ways I can,
especially on the defensive and just use my length, my speed and
just to be able to guard some of these quicker guys. I’m kind of
the head of the snake when it comes to defending, so I need to step
up and lead in that aspect.

NBA.com: After the Alec Burks trade and Kyle Korver now
coming here, there’s still a little bit of a logjam in the
backcourt/wing positions. You guys do diferent things on the court,
so do you see his arrival as an opportunity for you to gain more
minutes for your specific role?

Dante Exum: I think so, that’s the one thing as
I said, I’m just trying to, come in and make an impact however I
can do that. I think I need to offensively run the floor, push the
ball even more than I have, using my speed just to get out in open
transition. That’s where my strengths are and I’ve kind of gone
away from that a bit and I just need to find that.

NBA.com: Now with the added shooter in Kyle and
obviously Joey [Ingles] on the floor, do you feel like that’s
another role where you can expand your game, is taking more shots
from the outside?

Yeah, I definitely think so. I’m confident in my shot 100
percent and I just need to take the shots. That’s the thing with
me, coach was saying it to me, once I get that aspect of my game,
it just opens up the floor so much more for me, guys aren’t sitting
off me, so I’ve got a bit more time to shoot now, I just need to be
confident just and rise up and shoot and then once I started
hitting a few, when they close out, that just opens up my game for
the drive and finish.

NBA.com: A few days back, Australia qualified for the
World Cup, so now that that’s locked in we look forward to August.
You’ve dreamed about everyone coming together at the highest level
and being able to podium finish. How does it feel now that its
getting closer?

Dante Exum: I think this is a great opportunity
for us to obviously medal, but I think, the commitment that the
guys have shown, that we want this, is encouraging for us and
Australian basketball in general.

Hopefully this leads into a good summer for us at the World’s
and then follows up next summer for the Olympics. That’s the
ultimate goal – two summers in a row we medal and hopefully we
can.

NBA.com: Through this qualification process, obviously
everyone that’s in the NBA can’t go through it with the guys in the
NBL that are playing now, might not necessarily play on the
national team when you’re at these events, do you guys kind of text
back to them and let them know that they’re kind of doing the hard
yards for you guys to finish the job and pass the
baton.

Dante Exum: Once they kind of discussed having
this like window and stuff and the qualifications that we weren’t
able to play, that was an understanding that they might have to do
this and um, but, you know, I think the thing about Australian
basketball is, those NBL guys get the opportunity to represent
Australia and you know, that they’re happy for that and they’re
proud of that and it gives them an opportunity to be under the
national team coaches eyes to see how they operate.

So it’s given them an opportunity that they might not get with
the amount of NBA guys that we have, and I know a lot of guys that
have impressed the coaches through the qualifications and it’s
going to give them an opportunity to come into a camp when before
it might’ve just been that they would have been overlooked just
because of the NBA guys. But it gives them an opportunity to do a
good job.



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