Home » ‘He wants to be on the Olympic team’: The Boomers bolters to watch in NBL Championship Series

‘He wants to be on the Olympic team’: The Boomers bolters to watch in NBL Championship Series

Just two teams remain in the quest for NBL glory and while winning the title is the ultimate goal, there is added motivation for both teams with Boomers coach Brian Goorjian taking keen interest in this year’s Championship Series.

Goorjian told Code Sports ahead of Sunday’s first game between Melbourne United and the Tasmania JackJumpers that both Matthew Dellavedova and Chris Goulding are locks to be named in Australia’s July pre-Olympic camp.

Tasmania duo Will Magnay and Jack McVeigh, meanwhile, are being “strongly” considered according to Goorjian following impressive showings for the JackJumpers against Perth.

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Jack McVeigh has gone to another level. (Photo by Steve Bell/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

McVeigh led the way in Tasmania’s 110-84 Game 3 victory with 27 points while Magnay had 18 points to go with nine rebounds, prompting coach Scott Roth to reveal the latter in particular had been driven by a strong desire to represent the Boomers in Paris.

“Magnay continues to just do what he does, which is a big beast around the rim and strong and physical and gives our guys tremendous amount of confidence,” Roth said.

“That’s been his goal — he wants to be on the Olympic team. He doesn’t say it very much, but I’ll say it, that’s his goal… why he wanted to come back and be healthy and go through what he’s gone through.

“I hope Magnay at least gets a chance to get into training camp and be with them.

“Jack McVeigh, he’s another guy that is just launching his career and being really solid in what he does. Our guys have that in their mind.”

It wasn’t always so straight-forward for McVeigh, who was benched in his third year of college basketball at The University of Nebraska before breaking out of his slump to carve out a solid career in the NBL.

This year though, being his sixth as a professional and third with the JackJumpers, has seen McVeigh go to another level while averaging a career-high 17.2 points and 5.5 rebounds.

For Australian basketball great Andrew Gaze, what makes McVeigh in particular such a valuable part of Tasmania’s championship push is the unwavering confidence he plays with.

“He’s that energy guy, he’s that motivating force that every team needs,” Gaze said on ESPN’s ‘The Jump’.

“You saw it in one of the timeouts during the game, I don’t know what exactly he was saying but he was expressing himself and demanding of his teammates.

“The ability to knock down the 3-ball, he’s always had that but he doesn’t really take too many bad 3-point field goal attempts.

“He can get his shot off quickly, extremely crafty around the basket. He takes some of those Dirk Nowitzki-type on-leg floaters and makes them look easy but he is, as I’ve been saying throughout the entire season, the captain of my all body language team as well by the way he projects himself when he plays.”

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United down Hawks to reach Championship | 00:52

Melbourne United has its own hustle man though in Dellavedova, who was diving over LED advertising and generally throwing his body around for rebounds to help hold off a plucky Illawarra team.

Dellavedova averaged 20.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 2.6 steals across the series against the Hawks, earning Gaze’s vote as the MVP for the series.

Corey ‘Homicide’ Williams agreed too.

“He was the most dominant player in the series,” the NBL legend and commentator said on SEN 1116’s ‘The Run Home’.

“Delly showed everybody why he’s an NBA champion, why he’s a serious on-ball defender, why he’s the hustler that he is, the true Australian. He’s ready to go to camp. He wants to go to Paris. But more importantly, he wants that championship and he carried that backcourt.”

“His determination at both ends of the floor, the way in which he was demanding excellence out of his teammates and just the ferocious nature of how he goes about it [was impressive],” added Gaze.

“He was sensational and they desperately needed that level of play from Matthew Dellavedova.”

Matthew Dellavedova is the ultimate leader. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Dellavedova, who was cut from the Boomers’ FIBA World Cup squad last year in what Goorjian described as one of the most difficult decisions of his career, may be a triple Olympian and NBA championship winner but is yet to win an NBL title.

It is something that has been weighing on his mind, even in a recent training session when the reality of what United could achieve — or miss out on — dawned on Dellavedova.

“That was the goal at the start of the year to try to win a championship,” he said.

“Even yesterday we were really sharp with the short training session and I was thinking this can’t be the last one because we’ve got a great group, it’s really enjoyable to be a part of and we want to keep this going for as long as possible.”

The veteran guard’s teammate Jo Lual-Acuil Jr said late last year that Dellavedova was in “crazy shape” and it has showed, with the 33-year-old “living up” to the hype according to coach Dean Vickerman.

“When he came back to us this time, we knew his body was even better than last time we saw him coming off an NBA season,” Vickerman said.

“He talked to me and said I’m going to be so much better than last time and he has lived up to that.

“Demanding some switches and mismatches right now, he just sees people in front of him and he finds a way to go ahead and get to the rim and make great decisions.

“His leadership through this series, his desire, he did it both with actions and with words, so credit to him.”

Matthew Dellavedova hustles for every board. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

While Dellavedova is a lock for the Boomers pre-Olympic camp, 22-year-old Luke Travers is another United player who could push for selection with a strong performance in the Championship Series.

Travers was brilliant on both ends of the floor against the Hawks and particularly impressive when it came to limiting Gary Clark’s involvement in Game 3.

“Clark’s such a talented player, we had to put some pressure on him at the other end as well,” Vickerman said.

“LT really established himself to a point where we are calling iso plays out of time outs for him to attack.

“That’s a really big step forward and how he finished them plays as well.”

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