The Australian Basketball team, the Boomers, are tipped to win gold in Melbourne, with team captain CJ Bruton pitching to European team scouts as they watch the Games.
Australian Boomers captain CJ Bruton in action for his NBL club Sydney Kings in the recent championship series.
Bruton, 30, will play for Australia before heading for lucrative overseas competitions. He still had another two years on his contract with the National Basketball League’s (NBL) Sydney Kings, but the club has decided to release him in an act of goodwill.
“Right now there are still two or three options so I'm going to wait, but straight after the Commonwealth Games I'll go to Europe," he said.
"(It) might be Spain, might be Italy, but I'll try and get something straight after the Games.”
Bruton has been selected as one of five finalists for the 2006 Most Valuable Player award of the NBL.
The Boomers captain will be joined in the Australian team by Jason Smith, Sam Mackinnon, Paul Rogers and Tony Ronaldson, who have all played more internationals than Bruton.
“I don’t see myself as being sole captain of this team, because there are a lot of leaders and they have a lot more experience,” Bruton said.
The Australian men’s and women’s Basketball teams have world leaders in their ranks, with USA women’s league star Lauren Jackson and men’s coach Brian Goorjian, the mastermind behind the Sydney Kings’ three straight NBL titles, set to lead their teams at the Games.
“I guess like everyone else in the female squad, we're expecting a gold medal. We're going into it fully confident but obviously not overconfident,” Jackson said.
She will lead the women’s team, the Opals, alongside co-captain Jenny Whittle and with support from other experienced team members including Tully Bevilaqua, Jae Cross and Belinda Snell.
Eight nations will compete in both the men’s and women’s events, with the strongest challenges expected to come from Nigeria, New Zealand, England, South Africa and Malaysia.
Basketball competition begins 16 March at the regional centres of Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong and Traralgon, before culminating with the gold medal games at the Multi Purpose Venue (MPV) at Melbourne Park on 24 March.
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