‘I’m already training my arse off’: The Aussie NBA champion preparing for World Cup fight

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Australian Boomers star Matthew Dellavedova has started his push for a place at the FIBA World Cup in August and is setting his sights on the Paris Olympics by signing a two-year deal to return to Melbourne United.

The NBA championship winner was praised for his behind-the-scenes leadership with the Sacramento Kings this past US season as the team went from outside the playoffs to being one of the best sides in the regular season before being eliminated by a 50-point game from Golden State superstar Stephen Curry in game seven of their first-round series.

Matthew Dellavedova, right, will do everything he can to make the Boomers team for the FIBA World Cup in August.Credit: Getty Images

Dellavedova has found it tough watching the play-offs knowing his side could have made a title push, and he could have likely sought a similar role next NBA season, but he has decided to return to United with eyes on remaining in the Boomers as the team aims to improve on their bronze medal in Tokyo.

Dellavedova missed playing in the play-offs due to a fractured index finger, but he is training hard and said he will be at full fitness well before the Boomers go into selection camp in August.

The 32-year-old is aiming to play at his fourth World Cup in August and fourth Olympics in 2024 but acknowledges some elite players will miss out on selection with young talents like Josh Giddey, Dyson Daniels and Will McDowell-White pushing for guard positions.

“Boomers camps have always been some of the most competitive, physical basketball you can play,” Dellavedova said.

“There’s always great players that have to miss out, and it’s only going to get tougher as we have more young talent coming through who really want to represent Australia which is awesome.

“It’s going to keep pushing everyone to be better and come into camp ready because it will be on from day one – that’s why I’m already training my arse off now.”

Matthew Dellavedova wants to atone for Melbourne United’s semi-final loss to Tasmania in 2022.Credit: Getty Images

The Maryborough-raised point guard’s NBL return is also based on a desire to make good on the missed opportunity during his last season with United when the team was knocked out of the semi-finals by Tasmania JackJumpers.

Dellavedova hopes that re-uniting with Chris Goulding, Jo Lual-Acuil jnr, Brad Newley, Shea Ili and Ariel Hukporti, plus the signing of NBA-draftee Luke Travers, will give the club the chance to take the NBL crown from two-time champions Sydney Kings and any other contenders in 2023-2024.

“It’s still one that I think about,” Dellavedova said of his first United season.

“We had a great regular season and then to have it finish a lot sooner than we were expecting was definitely part of the reason why I wanted to come back and rectify that.”

While he didn’t play big minutes with the Kings, Dellavedova said his game and body are as strong as they have been for several years thanks to a rigorous training program.

“It was definitely a tough finish as I felt we could have gone all the way,” Dellavedova said.

“Credit to the player development staff. We were always playing a lot of five-on-five, lifting and getting workouts in.

“My game is a lot better than it was before, I just haven’t really had a chance to show it since being over here, so I’m looking forward to getting that opportunity.”

Amid their success this season, the Kings introduced a new phenomenon to the NBA in their purple laser “beam” which shot into the sky above the stadium after each win.

Kings fans would chant “Light the Beam” at the end of games and a player would hit the button to light it up following each home victory.

Dellavedova didn’t rule out bringing the beam with him to United.

“I’ll probably have to get clearance from the owner Vivek [Ranadive], GM Monte McNair and whoever came up with it,” Dellavedova said with a laugh.

“It really was a cool thing, to see it in the sky on your drive home from games and how the fans got behind it. I will talk to [United chief executive] Nick Truelson and [coach] Dean Vickerman and see if that is something they want to do.”

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