Written for NBL.com.au by Roy Ward
You could understand if Jason Cadee wanted to step away from the Boomers after the brawl with the Philippines.
Cadee was one of the five Australians on court when the brawl broke out so was caught up in the chaos and while he didn’t have any reservations about rejoining the team, he did feel a bit “uneasy”.
At least until Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis asked him if he was keen to be part of the side for Friday morning’s clash with Qatar in Doha and Monday night’s home game against Kazakhstan in Bendigo.
“I wouldn’t say there were reservations about playing, I’d just say I was just concerned about how teams might treat us on the road if we were winning,” Cadee said from Doha on Wednesday.
“It was a bit of an uneasy feeling but then Andrej called and asked if I was all good to play or if I had any problems and I just said “I’m in”.
“We all understand that we play the right way, that we never go on court to be part of what happened, that’s not part of who we are.”
The Boomers face a different test to what they experienced in the first round of qualifiers as they now face teams much further away in Qatar, Kazakhstan and Iran. Players flew 15 hours or more to Doha and return to Victoria for Monday’s game.
They also have some different faces in the squad with Daniel Kickert and Chris Goulding suspended and NBA players Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker both in the US beginning preseason. Maker is also suspended for three qualifiers following the brawl.
Goulding will be eligible to return on Monday in Bendigo but Kickert will miss the first five qualifiers and as a mainstay of the team, Cadee said he would take some replacing even with Adelaide star Daniel Johnson coming into the side for his debut.
“I love playing with Kicks,” Cadee said.
“He has had a really big influence on and off the court with this team. He and Cameron Gliddon have been on every Boomers trip I’ve been on so it’s a different team dynamic this time.
“You can’t replace a guy like Kicks but we have enough players around that we can cover what he did on court, we just need to do it in different ways.
“DJ has a little bit of Kicks in him with his outside and inside game.”
Cadee and Johnson’s debut was a fitting reward for his consistency.
“I’ve known DJ for six or seven years from when I first went to Adelaide,” Cadee said.
“He was one of my best mates when I was there and he has always wanted to do this, always stuck with it and now he gets to put on a green and gold jersey and it will be a cool feeling for him and me.
“It’s something special this game and every time after, I hope it’s a stepping stone to more games for the Boomers as we all know the talent he has.”
The Boomers play Qatar in Doha on Friday at 1am AEST then host Kazakhstan at Bendigo Stadium on Monday at 7pm AEST with Fox Sports showing both games live.