Boomers coach Brian Goorjian is thrilled to see Nathan Sobey restore his confidence with a breakout performance against Nigeria, conceding the guard hadn’t previously relaxed and found his groove in offence.
Sobey’s standout display was one of many shining lights in Australia’s blowout win over Nigeria without rested senior stars Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Aron Baynes and Joe Ingles.
The Brisbane Bullets guard finished with 15 points, four rebounds and five assists, while he looked comfortable in a playmaking role after showing tentative signs in the opening two exhibition games.
Goorjian hopes Sobey’s strong effort against the Nigerians lights a fire within the Bullets star.
“(Sobey) is a really important piece for us moving forward,” Goorjian said.
“That spot is going to be under siege for the tournament and there is a lot of pressure on that spot.
“I just thought leading into this he has been doing the right thing with the group defensively but just hadn’t relaxed offensively and found his groove.
“But tonight he got an opportunity to be Sobey. You know, play off the on-ball, be aggressive with his shot and attack the rim.
Nathan Sobey (right) had been tentative in Australia’s earlier games. Picture: Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“The only way to get confidence – it isn’t hiding under the table – is by performing and knowing you are competent at this level.
“That (Nigeria) was a very athletic team and it was a good night on that side of the ball for Sobey.
“It has been a situation where he has been trying to find himself in the group, so that was one of the things that was really positive and very important for us.”
Sobey‘s standout effort is perfect timing given claims that NBA draft-bound star Josh Giddey, who also impressed against Nigeria, would be a better fit for the Boomers despite the 19-year-old not being selected in Australia’s final 12-man squad for Tokyo.
Goorjian is thrilled with the Boomers’ big win over Nigeria, but he knows the Africans also mixed up their line-up and will be a stronger team come tip-off time in Tokyo.
The Australians face Team USA in their final exhibition match on Saturday from 8am before a rematch against Nigeria in their opening Olympic group stage game on July 25.
“I mean, we have nothing but respect,” Goorjian said.
“They beat the USA. They are tough and anything can happen in a tournament like this, and it is about looking at things and getting better.
“We know we are going to be dealing with three really tough teams in our pool, and as everyone has said next to me coming into this, they get it and this tournament is about us and developing a style that best suits our group and gives us the best chance to win.
“Again, tonight was a step forward, but as far as the respect for Nigeria and everyone in our pool, that hasn’t waned at all.”
Originally published asRejuvenated Sobey big boost for Boomers
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