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The Euro-Connection of Gold Medal Emus at the AST 2010

April 17th, 2010 · 5 Comments

The Australian U18 team won the 2010 edition of the Albert Schweitzer Tournament in a very impressive way. Even without having an outstanding talent dominating the competition, the Emus showed that an excellent team play and constant defensive effort is a huge advantage over teams that for most of them have only practiced a week together. But this is not said to downgrade the performance of Australia. We took a closer look at two of their players that have a particular link with Europe.

Anthony Drmic and Igor Hadziomerovic are two wings players that played a major role for the Australian U18 team in Mannheim. Both are members of the AIS (Australian Institute of Sports) for the last years and have European roots (Drmic is born in Australia of Croatian parents, Hadziomerovic has a Bosnian father and a Serbian mother). Hadziomerovic played mainly a role as three point shooter while Drmic is a slasher on the SF position that can also hit the three point shot. Both are tremendous fighters and were major factors also on defense.

Europeanprospects.com wanted to know how does it come that the Australian Youth teams coming to Europe always look like a perfectly oiled offensive machine and tough team defenders. Igor Hadziomerovic had the following explications for this phenomenon.

Our youth teams have been ingrained with this style of play from a very young age. Usually Basketball Australia conducts basketball camps 2-3 years before the major events and teaches the importance of team play and hard work. We may not always be the most talented team, but it’s in our culture to compete and strive for our very best.

Anthony Drmic sees this in a similar way.

It’s in our culture. It’s just how we play our sport in Australia: loud, proud and with 110 percent effort.

The Australian Institute of Sports plays a major role in this approach as 9 out of the 12 players of this U18 team are based at the AIS. But what makes this AIS so special? Hadziomerovic explains

The importance of the AIS in Australian Basketball is tremendous. The AIS has helped produce countless great Aussie players such as Andrew Gaze, Shane Heal, Luc Longley and the current NBA star Andrew Bogut. It’s a place that has built some history since it first came about in 1981 and helps you develop the tools needed for senior basketball and to one day hopefully represent Australia at an Olympics.

Anthony Drmic points out the specific preparation for major events like the Albert Schweitzer Tournament.

The AIS is really good for sport in Australia. It helps us to prepare better for tournaments such as the Albert Schweitzer Tournament. We train everyday with each other which helps get a feel for each and other and simply train against the best to become the best.

Australia had some problems when they arrived in Germany and suffered two losses (Germany U18 NT and USC Heidelberg) in their preparation. Anthony Drmic explains

On our arrival to Germany, we did suffer some loses. I don’t want to make any excuses but we simply were not playing as a team. It was also our first real taste of international basketball for most of us. Also don’t rule out that we did play some quality teams. In the end we just started to believe that we could go all the way, and we did.

Igor Hadziomerovic gives some additional explications for the difficult debut in Germany.

I think the losses we had against Germany Under 18’s and USC Heidelberg were a wake up call that made us realize international basketball is a whole different level. Our coaches Damian Cotter and Paul Goris stressed that we needed to play our style of game which is Running the floor and hard nosed D, which against Greece worked very well for us and gave us confidence going into the tournament.

Lots of AIS players went to play NCAA College Basketball after their time in Australia. But the European origins of Hadziomerovic and Drmic are also influencing their future plans. The first one was already close to Europe last summer as he explained.

My personal future is still unsure after the AIS. I have had some offers from European teams such as Partizan Belgrade, Virtus Bologna and a few others, however usually it is promoted in Australia to go to the NCAA first to gain more experience and let your body mature for professional basketball.

The next coming months is where I will most likely make my decision to go to Europe or the US. I hope for the long term my basketball future will be in Europe as their is much more exposure and larger fan base than Australia.

Anthony Drmic’ brother Frank has already played in Europe (St. Quentin, TBB Trier, EWE Baskets Oldenburg) so the 1m96 tall forward has similar plans for his future career.

For me right now, I will be finishing up at the AIS next year after World Championships in 2011. Then I will be going to college in  the United States. And for the future hopefully I will be able to play in Europe, it is my goal.

I see College Basketball as the best option for me to keep on improving and moving forward. I want to play in Europe afterwards. It’s one of the biggest goals I have. And as for playing for Australia hopefully i will get opportunities to represent my country at the highest level. There is NO better feeling then putting on the green and gold and going into battle for your country.

Next to the two wings, the Australian team featured several other players that are worth to take a look at. The tournament MVP Mitchell Creek was the standout with constant physical pressure on both sides of the court. He is an undersized PF with excellent athletic abilities who has however no real shot from outside. With being only listed at 1m95, Creek needs to improve in this area if he wants to move to the SF position in the future.

Jackson Aldridge played an excellent tournament as PG for the Emus. The 1m85 tall player impressed with some nice series from behind the arc (he scored 5 three pointers in a row versus Israel in the Overtime) despite having a release that is a little low, in front of his chest. He has a really strong right handed drive where he goes to the basket, sometimes in holding the ball in rugby-style.

Hugh Greenwood helped Aldridge in the backcourt with an massive defensive presence and pressure. On the offensive end, Greenwood reads the game situations very well and can cut to the basket coming of the weak side. His shot looks nice and the team captain is a true leader both vocally and in his attitude on the court.

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 albiongate // Apr 17, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Last year I contacted several players of serbian descent in order to know if they were willing to play for Serbia. Contrary to Dario Saric, Nikola Ivanovic and the unfortunate Filip Knezevic, Hadziomerovic never answered. As far as I know, UCLA and Partizan are his main options for next season.

  • 2 Stevan // Apr 18, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Stefan Nastic, who is playing next year for Stanford should be contacted..

  • 3 albiongate // Apr 18, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Serbian Basketball Federation is in contact with him (his father) for a long time now.

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