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Mills happy to pass on NBA lessons

Australian basketballers Lauren Jackson and Patrick Mills will play in Canberra on Sunday. Photo: Rohan ThomsonAction Jackson finds form

He has been schooled by some NBA greats, now Canberra point guard Patty Mills wants to ensure the Australian Boomers are the major beneficiaries of those lessons.

A bench player at San Antonio for the past two years, Mills’ basketball education has been accelerated by Spurs ”big three” Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli.

Their mentorship is helping him adjust from NBA role player to the Boomers ”go-to” man for game two of the Oceania championship against New Zealand in Canberra on Sunday.

”I’ve created a level of friendship with those guys that’s pretty close, and they’ve shared some stuff I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else,” Mills said.

”Two years with the Spurs and playing the NBA finals, what I’m looking to do now is play games where I can put in place what I’ve learned. These two games for the Boomers is the first place to do that.”

Australia overcame a scare against New Zealand in its 70-59 game-one win at Auckland on Wednesday, rallying from seven points down at half-time.

Mills has transformed from student to teacher at the Boomers.

The 25-year-old has taken exciting teenagers Ben Simmons and Dante Exum under his wing, and both showed promising signs in game one.

”I still look to guys like Tony and Manu and how they lead, I’m always taking mental notes on how they do that,” he said.

”This is just another chance for me to take what I’ve learned from the NBA and put it into work here.

”Dante and Benny are bringing a whole new level of energy, we saw that in the first game.

”I can teach those guys what I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve been through, hopefully they get a bit out of it.”

Guard Exum is tipped to be a top-10 pick in next year’s NBA draft should he decide to bypass the US college system.

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Action Jackson finds form

Australian basketballers Lauren Jackson and Patrick Mills will play in Canberra on Sunday. Photo: Rohan Thomson Sport.Australian Boomers’ Patrick Mills and Opals’ Lauren Jackson ahead of their games against NZ on Sunday.Filed: Friday, 16 August 2013 4:03:16 PM Photo by Rohan Thomson, The Canberra Timesrt130816LaurenPatrick-9641.jpg Photo: [email protected]

Mills happy to pass on NBA lessons

After ending a year of injury hell with a superb performance, a wave of relief washed over Australian Opals superstar Lauren Jackson.

In her comeback from 10 months out with a hamstring problem, Jackson racked up 22 points to steer the Opals to a 66-50 win over New Zealand on Wednesday. The centre was the major difference between the two sides, quashing any doubts she could return to her dominant best.

She is hoping to build on her remarkable comeback when the Opals attempt to sew up a World Cup berth in game two of the Oceania championships in Canberra on Sunday.

”It was the first game in 10 months I think it’s been, it was definitely a sense of relief,” she said.

”I was so happy to get through it and get it done. I feel great physically and haven’t felt this pain-free in so long.

”I’m well aware I need to focus on my fitness, that’s going to come.”

Asked if she was surprised by her immediate impact Jackson replied ”Not really. Brendan [Joyce, Opals coach] has been great. He’s been getting me back on court slowly and I gradually started feeling better about myself, and my game. I didn’t feel underprepared at all.”

Jackson’s stellar display in Auckland was a stinging reminder to the Canberra Capitals what they’ve lost after negotiations for her to play in the upcoming WNBL season fell through.

The 32-year-old was due to begin a $1 million, three-season deal with the Capitals in 2012-13, but injury prevented her from playing a single game.

She was keen to alter her contract to play this season, but terminated negotiations after the Capitals failed to meet a final deadline.

The Opals centre will only get better as Australia prepares for next year’s World Cup in Spain, where the team will look to atone for a worst-ever fifth placing four years ago.

”Obviously that was a disappointment, but it also gave us a chance to reflect on it and figure out the things we need to do better,” Jackson said.

”So much has happened since then, and it’s time to move forward.”

Joyce expects Jackson to take her game to a new level once she adapts to a new-look Opals squad which has played just four games together.

”I think physically and mentally she needed a break, and it’s always tough to get back into it,” he said.

”It’s just pleasing to see her play so well. Lauren and the team haven’t had a lot of time together and it was a great performance.”

They may have missed out on Jackson, but the strong Opals return from Natalie Hurst in game one was an upside for the Capitals.

The club favourite will return this season, and made a statement with 12 points after missing last year’s Olympics squad.

Joyce is an unabashed fan, giving the point guard hope she can revive her international career.

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With Goliath gone, what will become of David’s United?

If Manchester United perform as well in their start to life in the English Premier League without Alex Ferguson as they appear to have done in the transfer market, then they could trot out for their sixth game of the season, at home to West Brom on September 28, with just three or four points and in the bottom half of the table.

There is time for United to dig deep and add Geoffrey Kondogbia in midfield or Leighton Baines at left-back. There is even time for United to sell Wayne Rooney for a king’s ransom and replace him with Marouane Fellaini or, better still, Wesley Sneijder. But no matter how they perform between now and September 2 when the market closes, United’s choices over the past few weeks seem ill-advised.

Thiago was there for the taking; he’d been a long-term project and United met the player’s father plus his representative, Pere Guardiola. The club did its research about the young man it was proposing to buy – I was a small part of that process. Two different Manchester United people involved in trying to secure Thiago called me and asked about my knowledge of the player, his attitude, his potential and his lifestyle off the pitch.

Wages were fine but the terms that Mazinho and Guardiola wanted, (a fixed-price get-out clause if Thiago wasn’t playing regularly enough) and how to approach the complicated financial situation around the stated buy-out clause in his Barcelona contract, slowed things sufficiently for two things to happen.

First, David Moyes began to assert himself and let United know that while the club had been coveting Thiago for nearly three years, the Italian-born Spaniard of Brazilian parentage (what a playing DNA that is!) wasn’t his top priority.

Second, Pep Guardiola followed up on a phone call he had made to his former pupil, Thiago, four weeks earlier and persuaded Spain’s under-21 European Championship -winning captain to join the European club champion.

Then there is Cesc Fabregas. In late May, Ryan Giggs knew, and was happy to share, that the Spanish World Cup winner was not only United’s No.1 target, he was most likely coming. We are now in mid-August. No Cesc. United haven’t quite given up and, I suppose, when I witnessed Mo Johnston pose with a Celtic shirt at Parkhead one day and then sign for Rangers a couple of nights later, you have to admit that anything can happen.

But from the outset it has appeared that Ed Woodward, replacing United’s market expert David Gill, and Moyes have been fed red (and white) herrings.

Told by Fabregas’ agent Darren Dein and by Robin van Persie that the player wanted a move to Old Trafford, I guess you have to roll your sleeves up and try.

You prepare your finances, you check your sources, you bid. But when the selling club says ”no” over and again and when the player makes no public acknowledgment that he might be open to the move, instead twice knocking the subject out of the park when interviewed about it, then you begin to suspect your initial information.

A week ago Fabregas announced: ”My dream has always been to play at Barca and nothing has changed. I’m very, very happy here and I never thought about leaving.” Players have been known to be economical with the truth, but those aren’t the words to repay United for three bids plus their briefing that the Catalan remains their top priority.

This hasn’t been a great start. It’s also worth pointing out that if the club wanted Thiago and Moyes wanted Fabregas, they patently think United are short in the attacking-midfield department. Just as fate has handed Moyes three thorny player situations, the EPL computer has had a little malevolent cackle at his expense. If microchips could speak this one said: ”So you fancy taking over from Fergie do you?”

Game one, Swansea away, is loseable. Michael Laudrup has bought so well that South Wales will have many party nights this season. From then until West Brom, United have Chelsea at Old Trafford plus Liverpool and Manchester City away.

If things go badly, the visit of Crystal Palace in the middle of it all could be the only safe three points. City have done early and high-quality business; they are stronger and more unified, too.

Chelsea, pining for Rooney, have only moderately improved thus far and I have no doubt whatsoever that they offered United, verbally, a chance to put either David Luiz or Juan Mata, or both, in the Rooney deal they were trying to construct.

Yet Jose Mourinho should benefit from being out of the hornets’ nest he created at Madrid. He’ll know his way around. Moyes knows he will be constantly under the magnifying glass. While the pre-season matches, including the 3-1 home defeat to Sevilla that showed how to pass the ball, have been underwhelming, it’s true that he’s been working his players terrifically hard (with many double sessions) and there will come a moment when that kicks in.

Moyes and United give the impression that it would be healthier for them if the league started in three or four weeks – match fitness refined, off-pitch homework completed. But the club has a shrewd, resourceful, and determined man in charge. Should England’s champions start badly then many in the media and in the stands will shout ”Panic! Disaster!”. He won’t and nor should he.

Mike Phelan, Rene Meulensteen and Eric Steele, the three central coaches under Ferguson, all left the club in the summer. They have been replaced by Steve Round, Jimmy Lumsden and Chris Woods, while Phil Neville and Giggs have also been given coaching roles.

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Zwaanswijk backs Jaliens to lift Jets

PATRICK Zwaanswijk crossed paths with new Jets defender and fellow Dutchman Kew Jaliens many times during their playing careers in Holland.

Zwaanswijk, 38, spent more than a decade at Utrecht (1998-2004) and NAC Breda (2005-10) before joining the Central Coast Mariners.

Jaliens, four years Zwaanswijk’s junior, spent a similar period at Sparta Rotterdam (1997-99), Willem II (1999-2004) and AZ Alkmaar (2004-11).

Now, after a two-year stopover in Poland, Jaliens is about to venture Down Under and spearhead the Jets defence.

Zwaanswijk retired after the Mariners’ grand final success this year and is regarded as one of best imports to grace the A-League.

He has no doubt Jaliens has the pedigree to be a hit.

‘‘He has always been a strong defender,’’ said Zwaanswijk, who is now the Mariners’ head of youth and community football.

‘‘When I played him he was more a right fullback. In the national team he played there, but at times he played central defence at AZ.

‘‘His motivation will be the key.

‘‘In the past there has been players from all different countries who came here for a holiday and did not get to the standards of the past. Knowing Kew, I’m sure that won’t be a problem for him.’’

Zwaanswijk admitted he initially struggled in Australia and believed the biggest challenge for Jaliens would be adjusting his mentality.

‘‘In Europe, it is a bit higher level tactically, the way we play the game.

‘‘Here you have to be patient and be positive with the players. Not all are at that pedigree that you used to play with.

‘‘In the beginning I got frustrated, but in a good way. I wanted more from the players. I had a good mentor in Arnie [Graham Arnold]. He explained they weren’t there yet and he needed my experience at the back as a leader to help them get to the next level. That is the role of an import, in my view.

‘‘The league is growing and getting to a really good level. It is not a Mickey Mouse competition. Technically it is going up, and that is where we need the foreign players to be an asset.

‘‘Kew was coached by Louis van Gaal and has had great coaches in the past.

‘‘He knows total football. He knows that Dutchy [Jets coach Gary van Egmond] wants to play football out from the back and is one who can lead from the back.’’

● Emerging Jets striker Cameron Joice has been named in a 20-man Australian under-16 side for the ASEAN Championships in Myanmar.The tournament is the start of the Joeys’ build-up to the 2015 FIFA Under-17 World Cup.

Kew Jaliens.

Tasman trip for Speers Point gay couple

MONDAY is the big day for Speers Point’s Trent Kandler and Paul McCarthy, who will be among the first same-sex couples to marry in New Zealand.

SET FOR VOWS: Trent Kandler, left, and Paul McCarthy. Picture: Dominion Post

Same-sex marriage becomes legal next week, and Mr Kandler, a teacher, and Mr McCarthy, a vet, will wed at Te Papa national museum in Wellington from 9am.

It will be one of the country’s first gay marriages since the Marriage Amendment Bill passed.

Thirty-one same-sex couples, including six from Wellington, 14 from Auckland, one in Manukau, six in Christchurch and four in Rotorua, have told Births, Deaths and Marriages they intend to wed on Monday.

Mr Kandler and Mr McCarthy’s whirlwind wedding is the result of a last-minute entry into a tourism campaign, which offered an all-expenses paid trip for a same-sex couple to the Kiwi capital.

“We’re doing it to show our love for each other and we’re doing it really because we don’t have the opportunity back home, not even for a civil union,” Mr McCarthy said.

However, the flow of same-sex tourism from across the ditch may be brief, with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announcing this week that he was throwing his support behind marriage equality.

By then, Mr Kandler and Mr McCarthy, who got engaged two years ago, were already about to wing their way to New Zealand.

They felt sure many other Australians would follow their footsteps down the aisle, regardless of law changes at home.

They will proudly don pink ties to match their bridesmaids’ dresses on the special day, Mr McCarthy said.

A threefold leap in the number of marriage licence application forms downloaded overseas in just four days has taken New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs staff by surprise.

A total of 172 application forms had been downloaded by people from all over the globe between Monday and Thursday this week, including 19 for civil unions.

Almost half came from Australia.

Births Deaths and Marriages registrar-general Jeff Montgomery said registrars reported that same-sex couples had lined up outside registry offices nationwide yesterday to pick up marriage licences.

“They were really excited, congratulating each other,” he said.