11 Aug 2015

Mills joins Boomers for NZ series

7:29 am on 11 August 2015

NBA basketball star Patty Mills has declared himself ready to play against New Zealand and help the Australian men's basketball team book a spot at next year's Rio Olympics.

Australian Boomers guard Patty Mills in action against New Zealand's Izayah Mauriohooho-Leafa in 2013

Australian Boomers guard Patty Mills in action against New Zealand's Izayah Mauriohooho-Leafa in 2013 Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 26-year-old answered the Boomers' 11th-hour call to replace injured point guard Dante Exum for the two-game Oceania qualifying series starting in Melbourne on Saturday.

Exum was ruled out on Friday after suffering a torn ACL in the side's final warm-up game in Slovenia last week.

Mills was initially excluded from the Boomers squad to meet the Tall Blacks because he was not available for the European tour as he continued rehabilitation on a previously-operated shoulder.

But with Exum injured, coach Andrej Lemanis recalled the man who led scoring at the 2012 London Olympics.

"Patty is the best-placed player to come into the team quickly," Lemanis said.

"He's an elite player, an NBA champion and seasoned at international play and importantly, knows the Boomers system and style of play.

"If we were going to add a player to replace Dante, we needed someone who can help us beat New Zealand and that is Patty Mills."

Mills is already back in Australia and will join the rest of the team for their first training session in Melbourne today.

"Playing for my country has always been an honour for me," Mills said before departing the US.

"Obviously my shoulder injury last year meant that I had to continue intensive rehab and quality training over the past few months. I've done that and will be ready for the Oceania Championships.

"My focus now is helping my Boomers teammates qualify for Rio 2016."

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