Boomers Forward and Brisbane junior Cameron Bairstow says representing Australia at the Olympic Games is one of the proudest moments of his career.
The 25-year-old is lapping up the electric atmosphere in Rio, rubbing shoulder with some of the biggest names in world sport and simply enjoying the experience.
“Being in an Olympic games and representing my country is one of the greatest honours and I’m excited for the experience,” he said.
“Life in the village is pretty amazing. Being surrounded by the best athletes in the world is amazing and you feel privileged to be a part of such a prestigious group.”
The Boomers opened their Olympic game yesterday with a dominant 87-66 victory over France. Bairstow entered the court from the bench and was a strong contributor in his 14 minutes of game time.
The Boomers continue their Olympic campaign on Thursday against the might of the United States’ ‘Dream Team’ following a 95-80 victory over France this morning.
The United States are considered heavy gold-medal favourites, boasting the likes of back-to-back NBA MVP Steph Curry and Bairstow’s former Bulls teammate Jimmy Butler.
The Rio Games are considered Australia’s best shot yet at winning the nation’s first ever medal in Men’s Basketball following fourth-placed finishes in Seoul, Atlanta and Sydney.
“Our preparation has been really good and I thought we put in a great performance against France,” Bairstow said.
“We played a number of games together before coming to Brazil which boosted our development as a unit and I think that will only help moving forward.
Bairstow had struggled to break into one of world sport’s most cut-throat environments in the NBA and has struggled for game-time. He averaged just 4.6 minutes per game in 36 games for the Bulls and was only part of the squad’s starting five on three occasions.
He recently became the marquee signing for the re-vamped Brisbane Bullets whose entity has been regenerated eight years after the once-powerful club dramatically folded.
In a trade move between the Bulls and Detroit Pistons, Bairstow was traded to Detroit in late June before being waived by the Pistons, paving the way for a return home.
Bairstow’s mother Penny, a high-level youth Basketball coach in Queensland, says the opportunity to play for the team Cameron and his siblings grew up supporting is one Cameron jumped on.
“It’s great to see all the hard work that he’s put in over the years has paid off,” she said.
“It’s a very exciting time for him obviously. He had a tough time in Chicago and was really a role player for the [Chicago] Bulls, so he struggled to get game time.
“At 25, he’s still got a number of good years left in him and he’ll get quite a bit more game time at the [Brisbane] Bullets than he was getting in Chicago.”
Despite her son standing at a towering 206cm, Ms Bairstow says her son’s height may have been a disadvantage during his time in the world’s most competitive Basketball league.
“There are some other Forwards standing over seven foot tall, and Cameron is “only” 6ft9,” Ms Bairstow said.
“I know it’s ironic, but another inch probably would have helped him.”