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News » Mills eyes final Portland spot

Mills eyes final Portland spot

Mills eyes final Portland spot
Patrick Mills will turn down lucrative offers from Europe as he attempts to force his way into the Portland Trail Blazers NBA squad.

The Canberra basketballer left the capital yesterday to fly back to the United States and edge closer to his NBA dream.

He has almost recovered from the broken foot which crippled his bid to secure a contract with the Portland franchise.

Mills will have an X-ray on October6 and is expected to be cleared to return to the court.

He will then need to bounce back to his sparkling best immediately to convince Trail Blazers coaches and management he has a future in the world's best league.

Portland has just one spot left to fill on its NBA roster for the season which begins on October27.

"They've kept in regular contact to see how my foot is going so at least I know they're still keen and interested," Mills said.

"The goal is to play in the NBA not Europe.

"There are some offers from overseas clubs, but Portland haven't got rid of me yet so that's good signs and that's where I want to be.

"It's certainly going to be challenging and ideally Europe is out of the question ... it's more about me marking myself in the NBA and cementing my spot there."

Portland took Mills at pick55 in the NBA draft in June.

But on the first day of practice with his new club, the 21-year-old broke his foot and was ruled out of action for four months.

While Mills has spent the past two months in the capital visiting schools and training at the Australian Institute of Sport, his task to achieve his childhood dream got even harder when Portland signed veteran point guard Andre Miller.

The Trail Blazers now have three point guards Miller, Steve Blake and Jerryd Bayless on their roster with a decision on Mills to be made over the next month.

So Mills spent up to five hours at the institute every day he was in Canberra to ensure he didn't lose his touch even shooting from a chair while his foot was in a cast.

"Those three point guards kind of puts me not in a bad spot, but a challenging spot," Mills said.

"I don't want to give [Portland] a reason not to take me.

"I've done everything I can since I've been back in Canberra to keep the Basketball skills there."

"I definitely don't think I have lost those Basketball skills and I guess there's a bit of extra pressure there but that's all about being a professional player."

Mills broke on to the international scene when he starred for the Australian Boomers at the Beijing Olympics last year.

Playing from the bench he averaged 14.2 points a game and stamped himself as an NBA prospect with a dominant 20-point performance against the US.

He set his sights on being selected in the top 30 in the draft which carries a guaranteed contract but a broken hand earlier this year saw him slip to No55.

And despite being eager to show his NBA credentials to Portland, he said he would not rush back on to the court and risk further injury.

"I just have to try and get healthy as fast as I can and show them I can play at that level.

"I haven't played with a team since late March and I will do whatever I can to get into the NBA .

"Even if that means playing in the D-League [second tier competition] for however long."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: September 25, 2009


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