Boomers wary of World Cup grind as draw revealed
The Boomers' path to a maiden basketball World Cup medal will be crowded with NBA talent after Finland, Germany and co-hosts Japan were drawn into their pool.
Australia will be based on the Japanese island of Okinawa to begin the 32-strong tournament, their first assignment coming against Finland on August 25.
That game will be followed by clashes against Germany (August 27) and Japan (August 29).
Patty Mills and Joe Ingles are set to headline No.3-ranked Australia's squad, while emerging NBA talents Josh Giddey, Dyson Daniels and Josh Green have given coach Brian Goorjian the potential to assemble one of the strongest-ever Boomers outfits.
Germany are ranked 11th in the world, 24th-ranked Finland will play just their second World Cup while Japan are rated 36th.
But those numbers are deceiving, with NBA players including Finland's All-Star Lauri Markkanen, Germany's Dennis Schroder, and Japanese forwards Rui Hachimura and Yuta Watanabe all expected to suit up.
Goorjian is wary as he moves closer to settling on a squad that could also include Olympic stand-outs Dante Exum and Matisse Thybulle, along with Phoenix forward Jock Landale.
Luka Doncic's Slovenia, who the Boomers beat for bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, headline the other Okinawa group and loom as powerful second-round opponents should they finish first and second in their respective pools.
"I'm really excited. It becomes more real now that we know where we're playing and who we're playing," Goorjian said.
"Japan in Japan is going to be tough, we played Germany and it was line ball at the Olympic qualifications, Finland has played everyone tough over there and qualified, so there's a respect for these teams.
"I find this tournament really challenging because it's game after game, and a lot of the teams that could beat anybody don't qualify for the Olympics, so they're all there and it's a real challenge."
Australia are targeting a first World Cup medal at the 32-team tournament, which is being held on Okinawa, Jakarta in Indonesia and Manila in the Philippines.
Should Australia finish first or second, their next phase will match them against the top-two finishers in the other Okinawa pool, which features Slovenia, Georgia, Venezuela and Cape Verde.
Winners then move onto September's finals stage in Manila.
Australia were cruising towards a breakthrough medal at China's World Cup four years ago before crumbling in a semi-final, double-overtime loss to Spain.
They then coughed up a healthy lead over France in the bronze-medal game to finish fourth and ensure the wait for international silverware stretched on to Tokyo's 2021 Olympic Games.
New Zealand face a stern task to progress, drawn to face the Steve Kerr-coached United States, Jordan and Giannis Antetokounmpo's Greece in a blockbuster Manila pool.
Antetokounmpo and Ingles' Milwaukee Bucks were hoping for a deep NBA playoff run but lost to the Miami Heat in the first round.
"They were eliminated recently, so Giannis will have maybe a longer off-season than he's had in recent years," USA manager Grant Hill said.
Defending champions Spain have Brazil in their pool, while France - likely to feature NBA draft sensation Victor Wembanyama - and Canada will clash in Jakarta in a battle likely to decide top spot in their pool.