NOTHING is ever set in stone, especially when it comes to this game.
Day-to-day, week-to-week, game-to-game, someone always pops up to earn their place and take it the hard way.
Josh Bannan found that out this week after receiving a call-up to the Australian squad for the FIBA Under-17 World Cup. While he wasn’t part of the gold medal winning squad at the Under-16 Asian Championships recently, Bannan went back to work to make sure he was in the reckoning for the next Australian squad.
He has seized this incredible opportunity after flourishing in the Victoria Metropolitan uniform in Geelong, as Bannan thrived under pressure and showcased his talents on the national stage.
An explosive Australian Junior Championships coupled with an exceptional weekend at the recently held selection camp helped Bannan make it from one of 19 hopefuls into the final 12-man squad.
With an exceptional month behind him, Bannan was thrilled to earn his spot in the Australian roster and set his sights towards the international tournament.
“It’s a huge honour I was very happy and was a great feeling when I found out – I’m really excited and it will definitely be a huge privilege,” Bannan said. “I was really happy with the way I performed at the junior champs but it was a bit disappointing to finish with the bronze medal.
“When I got invited to attend the selection camp it was a really good opportunity and I think I did pretty well there – tried my best to fit into the system with Justin (Schueller) as the coach and ultimately it paid off.
“The past six months a lot of great things have been happening – I think it’s just been a long time with a lot of hard work and it’s starting to pay off a lot more recently.”
For now it’s time to cross off the days until he heads across to South America as he prepares for his Australian debut and donning the green and gold for the very first time.
“We’ve got to be ready for our first three games – it’s a bit over 40 days now until the tournament so I’ll work a lot individually on my own game and practicing the system and the offence we’ve put in place,” Bannan said. “Hopefully do the best we can when we get to Argentina as well.
“(On getting the jersey) ecstatic – I’m really, really excited for that.
“That’s something as a kid you dream about and not many people get that opportunity so it’s pretty hard to explain how much it means to me.”
He wanted to thank his parents for all their support of his basketball ambitions as well as his coaches and mentors across the journey including Darren Perry, Mike Czepil, Warrick Giddey, Mark Holland, Paul Lankford and Scott Nicey.
Head coach Justin Schueller said Bannan’s call-up to the FIBA Under-17 World Cup squad was on the back of his impressive versatility and work-rate on and off the court.
“Josh had an impressive nationals and possesses a great ability to stretch the floor with his scoring and is another versatile piece to our group,” Schueller said. “It’s great to see athletes get rewarded for continuing to do the work and giving themselves the opportunity to be selected.
“Great athletes are missing out on this squad too, but we feel we have the best possible balanced group for us to have the success we expect.
Josh will head off alongside Victoria’s Joel Capetola, Kobe Williamson and Jay Rantall to take on the world at the FIBA Under-17 World Cup late next month with hopes high for Australian success.
Victoria is also exceptionally well-represented on the staff side of the team with head coach Justin Schueller, assistant coach Nathan Cooper-Brown and team manager Mark Sainsbury set to represent the nation as well.
“We are really excited with our group that we have selected,” Schueller said. “We have an identity in how we play and the additions we have made we feel provide a point of difference for us.
“We will be athletic and versatile in our style and look forward to our group being able to add to the strong tradition of this program and do Australia proud.”