Australian veteran David Andersen has a master plan for the coming year and it involves a FIBA World Cup medal and a return to the NBA.
The 34-year-old centre will enter his fifth major tournament when the Boomers tip-off their World Cup campaign against Slovenia in Spain in the early hours of Sunday morning.
After a hiatus in the second half of last year to rest his body, Andersen played the end of the European season with SIG Strasbourg in the French league and is primed to play a key role for the Boomers where he will start at power forward and be a major cog in the team’s offence where his shooting and poise will be needed.
Andersen, who came through the Frankston Blues junior program before embarking on a professional career which is entering a 16th year, said he keenly wanted to see the Boomers claim their first senior medal this year.
So he decided to put his focus squarely on the national team and put all decisions about his playing future off until after the World Cup.
Unlike most of his teammates who have sealed their playing contracts in the NBA or Europe for next season, the 213-centimetre big man has kept his dance-card free with the hope he can show potential NBA suitors he is worth signing for the upcoming season.
Andersen has won titles in Italy, Russia, Spain, Turkey and the prized Euro League competition, so he is always in demand on the continent. But he only played a two-year stint in the NBA in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 where he was never able to show his full abilities.
Seven Australians have NBA contracts or contract offers, while Andersen and swingman Joe Ingles are both viewed as good enough to play in the league.
Considering NBA clubs want to emulate current champions San Antonio Spurs, Andersen’s height, smarts and shooting range could prove enticing, especially if the Boomers make a deep run into the medal rounds.
“I had a couple of offers come up but I told my agents that I would focus on the World Cup and try and help us do something special, and then decide after that where I will end up,” Andersen said.
“It could be Europe, it hopefully will be America but it could be anywhere, even China – it’s why I’m leaving my options open and letting my agents do their work while the World Cup is on. I’m rolling the dice a bit and seeing what happens.”
Boomers starting centre Aron Baynes is also a restricted free agent and hasn’t decided on his future, but does have a qualifying contract offer from San Antonio, his NBA club.
The Boomers’ clash with the highly-rated Slovenians could be their toughest group game, and while a loss won’t spell doom, Andersen said a win would put them in prime position to avoid a difficult crossover game in the knockout rounds.
“Slovenia will be a crucial victory for us, I suppose. Hopefully we can come out of the blocks on fire and get a good win against them because if we do that it will put us in a good position in the crossovers,” he said.
“But you don’t want to put your eggs in one basket – we have the tools to beat Slovenia but they are a very good team and play very good team basketball – nothing is easy at this level.”
This year’s Boomers don’t have leading scorer Patty Mills, so have looked to several players to score in double figures each game, including another Frankston junior in shooter Ryan Broekhoff.
With the Boomers filled with different scoring options, Andersen said it would play into their favour.
“It means there is a good balance and teams will find us harder to guard because they won’t know how we will come at them,” he said.
“At the World Cup it’s the best of the best so on any night you could lose to anyone – you have to be ready to go, which I think we are.”
The Boomers play Slovenia on Sunday morning at 1.30am with ABC 2 showing all Boomers and USA matches live.