By Liam Ellison.
As the team’s starting point guard and team captain, Wilson’s injury was a massive blow for the Emus’ chances and they went to fall to Turkey by 11 points.
“I remember thinking after the game ‘that might be it.’ I might never play for Australia again,” Wilson said.
“It was a daunting thought to have. I was fortunate that I had made the 17’s and 19’s teams and it was something that I had almost become accustomed too.”
The progression from junior national team representative to the Boomers is not always an easy transition and for Wilson, suddenly his pathway to the Boomers was uncertain.
After impressing with the BA Centre of Excellence (CoE), Wilson headed to college and represented Southern Methodist University (SMU) and Boise State but a tumultuous time at both schools saw him return home to chase a professional career in Australia in 2017.
His court time remained limited as he found his feet in the NBL with the Sydney Kings so a call from Boomers assistant coach Adam Caporn in early 2019 for a call-up to the national team came out of the blue.
“I was hoping to have a pretty significant role this year with Sydney, but some things just didn’t work out.
“I got injured the day before the first game but those things happen in pro-sport and you just have to deal with it.
“To get that phone call from Adam letting me know they wanted to take me on the tour was pretty surreal.
“It was something that I’d always dreamed of. I’d seen all the guys that had been in the seats before me at the CoE but it was something I didn’t really think would happen.”
Flying out from Melbourne immediately following the NBL awards night, Wilson and the Australian based Boomers met up with the internationally based talent before enduring a long flight and Dubai stopover on their way to freezing Kazakstan.
After getting in a few sessions together as a team, Wilson was informed that he would be starting in the Boomers’ back-court alongside Emmett Naar.
“When Luc Longley told me that I’d be a starter, it was a huge honour.
“In all honesty, it was lucky that I was starting because I didn’t have the time to think about anything. The game started, and I was out there…. It made things a lot easier for me mentally. As soon as the ball is tipped, it’s just regular basketball.”
Wilson tallied eight points and six rebounds in his Boomers debut as the Aussies dealt with Kazakhstan, 81-60.
“Compared to the NBL, it was a lot more physical and you need to be able to adjust to that style of play,” Wilson said.
“I think in FIBA the possessions are valued a bit more whereas the NBL is trending more towards the NBA with a lot of three-pointers and a lot more of a free-flowing and open sort of game.”
With one match under his belt, Wilson and the Boomers travelled to Iran where they faced a desperate team needing a win to assure qualification to the World Cup.
“The physicality picked up a notch against Iran, they gave it everything in front of their home crowd.
“They had the vuvuzelas blowing the whole game. I remember the first five minutes you couldn’t hear anything. It was a great experience, especially as a young team.”
Wilson went on to drop 16 points in the game, almost causing a late comeback as he nailed 5-11 from three-point range before the Boomers eventually fell, 74-85.
The two-game experience left the 21-year-old guard with a hunger to earn another chance to don the Boomers uniform and he now aims to establish himself as a mainstay at the professional level.
“I like to think that what I’ve done previously playing for Australia as a junior is what Andrej saw. I’m really thankful for the opportunity,” Wilson said.
“It’s not that I ever lost the passion… but now that I’ve got that taste for it again, (playing for Australia) is definitely something that I’ll be pushing for into the future.
“Hopefully I showed a lot of people that I can be a contributor at that sort of level.”
On July 3 2015, Tom Wilson left the court in the Under-19 FIBA World Cup Quarter-Final against Turkey with a potential knee injury and his dreams of representing his country dashed.
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