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Lemanis made massive call in leaving out Creek, history will judge it

Leaving Mitch Creek out of the Australian Boomers for the FIBA World Cup in China is a massive call.

Creek has ticked almost every box in the past three years starring in the NBL, leading the Boomers to the FIBA Asia Cup in 2017 and starring in qualifying then taking his talents in the US where be broke into the NBA twice last season.

Creek is everything a coach wants in a teammate and a player.

But Lemanis said on Wednesday when it came down to selecting his roster, European-based small forward Xavier Cooks was a better shooter, equal defender and looked a better fit; while Brisbane guard Cameron Gliddon was selected as a bench shooter and back-up guard. Creek was the odd man out.

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History will judge Lemanis on the results at the World Cup, if Canada or Senegal beat the Boomers on athleticism that judgment will be a harsh one.

Before the 2014 World Cup, Lemanis made a bold call in picking little-known, European-based small forward Ryan Broekhoff and he has since grown into an NBA player and regular Boomer.

It's also worth nothing two years ago only hardcore NBL fans would have known Creek's talents and many would have doubted he would be in the running for a full-strength Boomers side.

But good performances can change people's perceptions and just as Creek won Australian fans over, behind closed doors at selection camp Lemanis says Cooks and Gliddon won him over.

Cooks isn't known to many local fans as he has been playing in Europe, he wasn't even selected in the squad instead he was called up to replace NBA big man Thon Maker. But in camp he nailed his threes, rebounded, ran the court and fitted with the team exceptionally well.

In Creek and rookie Boomer Deng Adel, Lemanis could have made his side much more athletic than any Boomers team before it, but he doubted Creek's ability to make shots and Deng's to adjust to the team's system of play.

Adel is super athletic and is fast improving. He could make the roster with Brooklyn Nets this NBA season and Lemanis sees a big future for him with the Boomers, just not this tournament.

Mitch Creek at a Boomers squad training session earlier this week.

Mitch Creek at a Boomers squad training session earlier this week.Credit:AAP

With Melbourne United captain Chris Goulding picked for his shooting and experience and Brisbane guard Nathan Sobey for his ability to play both guard spots and make an impact off the bench, the last call was between an extra shooter and ball-handler in Gliddon or a swingman in Creek.

Many Australian fans would think Creek should have earned that spot, but Lemanis said Gliddon started shooting the lights out in the last two days of camp.

Gliddon shoots 39 per cent from the three-point line in the NBL and can play either guard spot.

Like Creek, he has played in the majority of Boomers games in the past three years and like Creek can defend at a high level. Shooting decided this spot.

Whether having Goulding, Sobey and Gliddon as bench guards and shooters proves overkill remains to be seen.

"Glidds missed practice the first two days with a hamstring issue, he thought he had missed his opportunity but he came in on days three and four and went whack, whack, whack, whack [making threes]," Lemanis said using the local slang for making a basket.

"It was a perfect example of what we wanted from that role. You might sit for game one and two but in game three need to come out and be able to put the ball in the basket when we need it."

"So it was a pretty easy choice after that."

What Lemanis knows, what Creek knows, what Gliddon knows and what any sensible observer knows is that the coach makes the final call and lives with the consequences.

Roy Ward is a Sports writer for The Age.

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