Former NBA star Longley upbeat on Australia’s World Cup hopes

Former NBA star Longley upbeat on Australia’s World Cup hopes

Agency News

Sydney, Aug 26 : Former three-time NBA championship winner Luc Longley believes rival teams heading to China for the FIBA Basketball World Cup will be wary of Australia, after Saturday's historic win against the US in Melbourne.

"If anyone was sleeping on us they'd be awake now," said the 2.18m center, who played alongside the likes of Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman at the Chicago Bulls during the 1990s, and currently serves as an assistant coach to the Australia team.

Before flying to China on Monday, Longley described the 98-94 victory against the US "a bit of an Everest of basketball", with the Boomers having previously endured 78 successive losses to the US. "That was fantastic to see pre-World Cup," Longley added. "It was a friendly and people understand that [US] coach [Gregg] Popovich was playing around with his line-up and having a look, but nonetheless it was a great win and people acknowledge that."

"The US are super-talented and can score in bunches and I think our guys managed to weather that storm and not panic when they started to get up, and that showed a lot of character, and that's what we're going to need to bring a medal home from China."

With the World Cup in China set to begin on August 31, the Boomers will have one final warm-up match against Germany before taking on Canada in their first tournament game on September 1. "We have to beat Senegal, who we would be expected to beat, but there's still work to do, then we have to beat either Canada or Lithuania to get out of our pool," Longley said.

"Canada and Lithuania are both very good teams and we've been beaten recently by Canada, so we're straight down to work as soon as we hit China." (UNI-XINHUA)