DALLAS (Rio 2016 Olympics/FIBA Asia Cup 2017) - Australia center Andrew Bogut may never get over the disappointment of the Boomers' heartbreaking Bronze Medal Game defeat to Spain in Rio de Janeiro because it would have been the first podium finish for the men's side at an Olympics or a FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Despite the near miss, Bogut has no regrets about being with the national team in Rio.
He says joining the side helped him "mentally" more than anything else and he has not ruled out putting on the Australia shirt again. The NBA star gave this interview to FIBA.com.
FIBA: Andrew, how did playing for Australia in Rio help you get ready for the new season?
Bogut: Those are two separate things. After losing Game 7 of the NBA Finals with the (Golden State) Warriors, going to the Olympics was the best thing for me. When you have a bad lap and you are going through a rehabilitation challenge, the body needs to recover and I was able to make it to the Olympics, which was very good. Going to the Olympics kind of reset my mind after the NBA season. After the Olympics, I took one or two weeks off and got back to practice for the start of the NBA season. It was a short time being off of the court, but it was helpful. Going through that intense summer and the Olympics kind of helped me mentally more than hurting me. It was tough to lose in Rio. Losing against Serbia (in the Semi-Finals) was a huge blow for us. The Spain game was a bitter one because of those free-throws in the last minute that were called for them.
FIBA: A couple of months ago, you mentioned that the Rio Olympics were likely going to be one of the last, or your final competition with the Boomers. How do you stand today?
Bogut: Possibly, we will see what happens. The format is changing now, there are qualifying games to play now and the whole system is changing. If I am healthy and feeling good, we will see what happens. But I will get definitely smarter now as I am getting older. I haven’t made a decision about all of this so far.
FIBA: What do you think about the national team's prospects?
Bogut: I think we have a very good group and a solid core. The team is very talented, everybody is giving his best to the team and we are united as a group. Those are the ingredients of our success and improvement in the last couple of years. Finishing fourth in Rio was bitter, but it was still a sign of our improvement. Having young talents like Ben Simmons now, Dante Exum coming back after a serious injury, and some college players that will be added to the team and mixed with the veterans is a great sign for Australian basketball. Some guys have very important roles or are going to have very important roles on their NBA or college teams, but it is different with the national team where everything is more balanced and everyone is super important.
FIBA: How will the Boomers cope with that, bringing in such big talents?
Bogut: That is a challenge that Australia has never faced before and we need to get ready to keep the collective dynamic in the national team. We never had to face this before as we never had as much talent as most of the other very competitive countries of basketball, so we had to bring something else to the table, like our team spirit, tenacity and physicality. We have to make sure now that as we are having so many talented guys coming up, it doesn't start like 'oh we have the best talent now, we can relax and talent would be sufficient'. Australia’s national team has to keep the same mentality we have had the last couple of years.
FIBA: What about having to deal with your change of address to Dallas? The Mavericks have had a very slow start to the season.
Bogut: It's a bit frustrating, it's tough. At Golden State, we weren't used to losing that often and we were in a very positive vibe in general. Those last two years were kind of a fairy tale for the world of basketball and for the NBA in general. Being in those kind of winning dynamics and streaks were amazing, and I don't think it will happen for a while now. Those two years were a great and superb run.