The Australia Men’s basketball team lost a nail biter in their first game of Olympic Competition 75-71 to Brazil, a team which boasts four NBA players in Leandro Barbosa (Indiana), Anderson Varejao (Cleveland), Nene Hilario (Washington) and Tiago Splitter (San Antonio) and has experts predicting them as medal chance.
NBA Superstars Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony, currently playing for the USA Olympic team predicted Patty Mills to take it to another level and he didn’t disappoint, leading all scorers with 18 but another player for the game against Brazil caught the eye of another professional sportsman, the Collingwood Magpie’s Scott Pendlebury.
“I hadn’t seen a lot of (Matt) Nielsen play with him being in Europe for most of his career but watching the Boomers play tonight I couldn’t stop thinking about how awesome he would have been at playing AFL” said Pendlebury.
Matt Nielsen, a three-time Olympian and captain of the 2012 Boomers squad was a two time NBL Champion and a league MVP before heading overseas to ply his trade in Europe.
Nielsen’s career has included stops at clubs in Greece, Lithuania, Spain and Russia where he currently plays for BC Khimki.
“Watching him play against Brazil his physicality and desperation would have been ideal for an AFL ruckman. He won every 50/50 ball in that game and he knows how to use his body and protect himself as well”
Matt Nielsen turned 34 this year so a transition is not likely. It is unlikely that a career change would have ever been an option for Nielsen who has enjoyed many lucrative European contracts during his time overseas, including the €1.8 million Euros (2.11 million AUD) he signed with Olympiacos B.C. for in 2010.
“He would have been awesome in the AFL. One of the most important skills you can have in football is using your body to gain space or protect yourself and that is a skill prevalent in basketball and no doubt one of the big reason basketballers are so sought after by AFL teams today”.
“I wanted to go to an Olympic Games, I wanted to be a part of that. Green and gold, there’s no prouder thing for playing basketball than to actually put it in the Olympic Games. It’s awesome and there’s no way you could top it” Matt Nielsen told Basketball Australia he had dreamt of being an Olympian since he was 6 years old.
It’s clear Nielsen is happy with his choice, but Scott Pendlebury still enjoys to think what damage he could have done manning the ruck for the Magpies.
Collingwood’s Scott Pendlebury has a well known love of both Football and Basketball.