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‘You have to be selfish’: Andrew Bogut says career comes before country

Aussie basketball big-man Andrew Bogut says Thon Maker’s withdrawal from the Boomers World Cup squad is an example of how career can sometimes trump country.

Maker, who plays for the Detroit Pistons in the NBA, withdrew from FIBA World Cup duties at the urging of the Pistons who would rather the 216cm centre focus on his personal development.

Bogut says it’s a fact of professional basketball that sometimes a player “has to be somewhat selfish with your own career,”

“Thon started with Milwaukee, he got traded this year to Detroit, I don’t think he had a great year, he’s got a lot to improve on,” he told Mark Levy and Mark ‘Piggy’ Riddell on Macquarie Sports Radio. 

“They probably gave him a tap on the shoulder and said ‘hey, if we’re trying to invest in you to be here long term, if we give you a contract down the line we want to see that you’re committed,

“It’s a tough one for a young fella, I definitely don’t despise him for it or anything like that, I think the most important thing is that he gets his career on track and the national team stuff will follow.”

Maker, along with Dallas Mavericks wing player Ryan Broekhoff and Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum, are the Australian NBA players who have withdrawn from World Cup duties.

Broekhoff withdrew for family reasons as he and his wife are expecting their first child in June, while Dante Exum has been ruled out due to injury.

Bogut has a pragmatic attitude towards national team selection.

“Family and career, you’ve got to put them a little bit above playing for your national team, but if most guys are fit and firing, they always put their hand up,” he said.

Still, the Boomers squad features nine current NBA players and was labelled “the most talented squad Australia has ever had” by NBL legend Lanard Copeland.

Bogut is suiting up for the Boomers once more and, while aware of the team’s strength on paper, is conscious of the job which lies ahead.

“It’s one of our better teams that we’ve had over the past 20 or 30 years but we still have work to do, the rest of the world is just as good believe it or not,

“We have a lot of countries that are competing for that elusive medal as well, it’s a tough tournament.”

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