Mills aims to turn Boomers into powerhouse
9 August 2013
BASKETBALL: He's more famous for waving towels than the Australian flag.
Yet basketball star Patty Mills has announced his intentions to step up as a leader for the Boomers and turn them into a powerhouse at the World Cup in Spain next year.
The San Antonio Spurs point guard made headlines for creative towel waving from the bench rather than his play during his side's recent loss to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
And while Mills has just signed a $US1.1 million (A$1.21 million) deal to play another season with the Spurs in 2013-14, he was training with the Boomers in Canberra on Thursday ahead of next week's two-game Oceania championship series against New Zealand.
"It starts here," Mills said.
"We're looking to be a powerhouse up there with the best - Spain, Argentina and other powerhouse teams."
The Boomers have never won a World Cup or Olympic medal.
It's a stark contrast to Australia's female basketball team the Opals, who consistently claim a podium finish on the world stage.
However Mills is adamant that a top three finish at both the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2014 and then the Rio Olympics in 2016 is a realistic goal.
"We can't settle for anything less," the 24-year-old said.
"It's gone past the times of just going to international tournaments to just compete, we've got to go after a medal."
New Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis has thus far opted against selecting a captain following the retirement of Matt Nielsen.
However Mills said it was up to both himself and former FC Barcelona guard-forward Joe Ingles to step up as senior leaders in the side.
"Both of us are ready," Mills said.
"We've got to be. Given where we've both been over the last few years and with our experience we've got to step up and take on that challenge."
While centre Andrew Bogut is not playing in the two match series against New Zealand following a string of injuries, Lemanis is confident the NBA star will return to the Boomers playing group in time for the World Cup next September.
"He's said that there is not problem with the Boomers program and he wants in, it's just a case of ensuring his body can handle the load," Lemanis said.