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While Australia’s men’s basketball squad gather in Perth to start their final Olympic preparations, coach Brett Brown will be in America sweating on the climax to the NBA season.
Brown is an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, Patty Mills’ team who have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven western conference finals against Oklahoma City Thunder.
Should the Spurs clinch their series against the Thunder, they will face the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics in the championship-deciding series.
It’s the stuff of basketball dreams, but for Brown has come at an inopportune time.
The extended Boomers squad head into camp in Perth on Sunday ahead of a three-match series against China in Western Australia.
Bookmakers expect the Spurs to edge the Thunder, a result which would ensure Brown misses the China fixtures on June 9, 11 and 13.
Boomers assistant coach Andrej Lemanis will take the reins in Brown’s absence, and the latter has full confidence in his understudy.
“My staff and these guys have been doing this for a long time. Both Andrej and (fellow Boomers assistant coach) Marty (Clarke) have been preparing this group for a while,” Brown said in a statement.
“To have a program in place that starts this early is very unique to most other nations.
“We have a terrific opportunity to start our preparation with a handful of prospective Olympians in early June. It’s something that makes Australia distinctive in our preparation.
“Our goal now is to get our guys together and slowly move forward in the direction that we need to go.”
Brown denied his nonattendance would have any adverse impact on the Boomers’ Olympic preparation.
“This situation is something that we’ve been monitoring for a long period of time,” he said.
“Fortunately we’ve also had our core group playing high level international basketball together for the past three years, so this is the culmination of a long preparation.”
Basketball Australia’s general manager of high performance Steven Icke was confident the squad could remain focused.
“He has not only delivered a first class program to the Boomers’ players, but has prepared a contingency plan which is now in effect as a result of his commitments in the NBA,” Icke said.
The NBA lockout pushed the NBA playoffs to start two weeks later than usual, while the London Games are scheduled to start earlier than Beijing.