Australia’s baby boomers were evacuated from their team hotel in Japan on Thursday night after a capricious scare linked to North Korean missiles ahead of their World Cup campaign which kicks off tonight AEST.
The FIBA Basketball World Cup is hosted by the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. The Boomers are stationed in Okinawa ahead of tonight’s first group game against Finland, followed by tough games against Germany and Japan.
Boomers players and coaching staff were awakened at 4 a.m. Thursday in Okinawa, disturbed by a missile launched nearby from North Korea that triggered emergency evacuation alerts.
Residents of Okinawa received the emergency alarm via their phones overnight, with the notification reading “Emergency Alert: Missile Launch. Missile launch. A missile was reportedly launched from North Korea.
Just 13 minutes later, another message appeared: “The missile has passed. The missile passed. The previous missile is believed to have passed through the Pacific Ocean around 4 a.m.
“We will cancel the evacuation call. Never approach anything suspicious and contact the police and fire department immediately.
Australian Boomers point guard Patty Mills and her teammates were evacuated from their team hotel ahead of the Basketball World Cup due to a North Korean missile scare.
This is North Korea’s second attempt to place a spy satellite in orbit. Its first attempt was in May and also ended in failure when the new Chollima-1 rocket crashed into the sea.
South Korean cities, including the capital Seoul, were also evacuated.
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, said the repeated missile launches posed a threat to regional security.
“We will vigorously protest against North Korea and condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” he said.
It wasn’t the ideal build-up heading into basketball’s showpiece event, where the Boomers are looking to solidify their reputation as a rising global powerhouse with another deep run in a major tournament.
After an appearance in the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup and a bronze medal at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, Brian Goorjian’s men are once again one of Japan’s major players.
However, they will first have to come out of a delicate pool made up of Germany and the host country, as well as Finland.
A man walks past a television screen showing a newscast with footage of a North Korean missile test.
Police officers guide traffic at the start of the evacuation test at Gwanghwamun Square/Station in Seoul, South Korea
Early morning disruptions were the last thing Boomers coach Brian Goorjian needed as the Australians tried to navigate through a tricky group stage at the World Cup.
But coach Goorjian admitted they had bigger goals than just surviving the group stage.
“We look forward to the challenge ahead of us,” he said.
“We have introduced some exciting new prospects to the squad and developed a style of both attacking and defensive play that we will adopt in the tournament.
“It’s clearly a tough tournament, but we’re confident in our plan for what we need to do to win gold.”
They go into their opener against Finland as big favorites, but will have to stop Utah Jazz shooter Lauri Markkanen if they want to get the job done.
The NBA’s most improved player dropped a career-high 25.6 points per game for the Jazz during an All-Star campaign last season and is clearly his team’s big hope.
There’s a sense of intrigue surrounding the lineups Goorjian will produce, with the Boomers forced to play a small ball following center Jock Landale’s late injury withdrawal.
NBA star Jock Landale was injured on the eve of the World Cup, a blow for the Australians.
Oklahoma City Thunder goaltender Josh Giddey (left) will be a huge inclusion for the Boomers after being eliminated for the Tokyo Olympics.
Jack White (right) will be the man in charge of filling injured Jock Landale’s big boots for the Australians.
Without Landale, the 211cm beast Duop Reath is the only traditional big on the list, with Goorjian suggesting the 201cm Jack White could be the one to take his minutes.
Melbourne United manager Dean Vickerman, who previously managed the Boomers, has suggested former manager White is emerging as a long-term option for the team.
“Obviously Landale being injured is so sad for him (given) how dominant I thought he would have been at this World Cup,” he said.
“But having Jack as a guy coming into the Boomers program and what he’s going to do not just for this championship, but over several years as a Boomer, is a great start for him.”
Australia play Finland on Friday at 6 p.m., before facing Germany on Sunday and Japan on Tuesday.
Spain are defending champions after beating Argentina in the final, while France beat Australia in the playoffs for third place.