Anthony Petrie takes on New Zealand last Wednesday. Photo: Sandra Mu
HE'S the other Canberran in the Australian Boomers' starting five, but Anthony Petrie thought his dream of wearing green and gold had already passed him by.
The 30-year-old will play his first international game in Australia on Sunday and, fittingly, it will be on his home court in Canberra.
Despite the Canberra Cannons NBL team going bust a decade ago, two Canberra juniors will feature in the Boomers' squad for Sunday's game against the New Zealand Tall Blacks.
NBA star and Olympian Patty Mills is the star guard of the Australian team and the Canberra junior admitted he had ''shivers'' at the excitement of playing in front of his home crowd.
Remarkably, Mills has never played at AIS Arena, known as The Palace in Canberra basketball's glory days.
But few have battled harder to be in this position than Petrie.
Dogged by serious injuries and part of many NBL teams that have folded, the former Canberra Gunner is now starring with the Adelaide 36ers.
In game one of the Oceania Championships in Auckland on Wednesday, Petrie started in place of an injured David Barlow and racked up seven points, four assists and three rebounds.
''I've worked my tail off over the off-season to get in the best shape I could and give myself a chance,'' Petrie said.
''I just wanted to be a part of it so bad, and now I've got the opportunity, I don't want to let it go.
''It's a bit of a cliche but I've put it [Australia aspirations] in the back of my mind the last couple of years; I was just trying to get over a couple of big injuries like knee operations and a busted Achilles.
''Those injuries were a real wake-up call. You can't take the game for granted, it could be over in a flash.''
Petrie can't think of a better place than Canberra to play his first FIBA match in Australia.
It's where he had his basketball education, before forging a long career in the NBL. His wife Sarah also played for the Capitals.
''It's a really special moment, Canberra springboarded me with uni and my basketball career,'' he said.
''I've seen my wife play some big WNBL grand finals here, watched the Cannons and the Gunners' boys.
''I couldn't think of a more perfect place.''
A strong Canberra flavour is prevalent in the Boomers and Opals teams which will take to the court on Sunday.
Opals stars Lauren Jackson, Natalie Hurst and Kristen Veal have all won championships with the Capitals.
Youngster Ben Simmons is the son of former Canberra Cannons player Dave Simmons.
Mills played in this year's NBA finals with San Antonio, but still got goosebumps when he returned home to Canberra.
''When I walked in, it gave me the shivers seeing these floorboards again,'' he said.
''It brings back memories as a little kid coming here and watching the Cannons, dreaming I'd one day play here.
''It's crazy to think I've never played here before. Now I get the chance.''
The Boomers and New Zealand Tall Blacks have already qualified for next year's world championships in Turkey.
The stakes are higher in the women's match. The Australian Opals hold a 16-point buffer in the best of two series against New Zealand, with the winner of the series progressing to the world championships.
Australian Boomers v New Zealand Tall Blacks at AIS Arena, 4.30pm.
Boomers: 4 Matthew Dellavedova, 5 Patty Mills, 6 Adam Gibson, 7 Joe Ingles, 8 Ryan Broekhoff, 9 Dante Exum, 10 David Barlow, 11 Ben Simmons, 12 Cameron Bairstow, 13 David Anderson, 14 Anthony Petrie, 15 Luke Nevill. Coach: Andrej Lemanis.
Tall Blacks: 4 Jordan Ngatai, 5 Everard Bartlett, 6 Izayah Mauriohooho Le’afa, 7 Mika Vukona, 8 Jarrod Kenny, 9 Corey Webster, 10 Tom Abercrombie, 11 BJ Anthony 12 Reuben Te Rangi, 13 Casey Frank, 14 Jack Salt, 15 Alex Pledger. Coach: Nenad Vucinic.