The Australian Boomers are safely into the second round of FIBA World Cup qualifying but will face a desperate side Japan in Tokyo on Friday night.
The Japanese are facing a shock elimination after losing all four of their games so far this campaign, with the top three teams in the four-team group going through to the next round.
Australia have won all four of their games including a comfortable win over Japan in Adelaide late last year and the Boomers have been further boosted by the addition of Milwaukee Bucks duo Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker, the latter of whom will make his Australian debut.
But Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis has warned his side to be prepared for a relentless Japanese side who will play in front of a sellout crowd.
The Boomers follow this game with a trip to Manila to face the Philippines, who are expected to fill their 50,000-seat Philippine Arena on Monday night for the clash, which closes out the first round of qualifying.
The larger stadium could give the Boomers a taste of what they will experience at Etihad Stadium at the two games there next year against Team USA.
"We are all looking forward to it, a 50,000-seat venue packed out with good basketball fans," Lemanis said.
"But we cant overlook Japan as they are playing for lives, havent won a game yet and are playing for their World Cup lives.
"They are at home and have added some new pieces, we will get through this battle first then worry about the Philippines after that."
Adelaide 36ers guard Anthony Drmic was called into the side earlier this week as an injury replacement for Perth Wildcats forward Jesse Wagstaff. Drmic has been in good form in the South East Australian Basketball League, where he has been starring for his home club Dandenong Rangers.
Lemanis has also pushed his NBL-based players not to defer too much to their NBA teammates.
"The important thing now is that as a crew we dont get distracted by having 'Delly' and Thon here,” Lemanis said.
"They are both good guys and both want to fit in and integrate into the group," Lemanis said.
"We dont want to defer to those guys, we want to find a way to work them in and continue to grow as a team."
Roy Ward is a Sports writer for The Age.
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