Former Billiken represents Australia at Rio Olympics


Australia’s swashbuckling run in Olympic basketball may have fallen just short of a medal, but it will be a tournament to remember for any SLU basketball fans, as former Billiken star Kevin Lisch played in all eight games of Australia’s tournament.

A local of Belleville, Illinois, and an Althoff High School graduate, Lisch’s basketball career has taken him all over the world, with playing stints in Australia, Puerto Rico, France and Spain, before finally returning to Australia and gaining citizenship in March.

During his time with the Billikens from 2005 to 2009, Lisch was a standout point guard under both Brad Soderberg and Rick Majerus. He is the Billikens’ sixth-leading scorer, was recently selected to the Saint Louis University All-Century Team and was a three-time All-Atlantic 10 Conference selection and 2009 Academic All-American. He will be the third Billiken to play basketball in the Olympics, following in the footsteps of Pete McCaffery and Dick Boushka. McCaffery won a gold medal with Team USA in 1964 in Tokyo while Boushka won gold with Team USA in 1956 in Melbourne, Australia.

Lisch’s play in Australian basketball consistently placed him amongst the top players in the league. Fresh out of college, he joined the Perth Wildcats, with who he won a National Basketball League championship in 2010 and was the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2012.

Later, when he returned to Australian basketball as a member of the Illawarra Hawks after playing in Puerto Rico, France and Spain, he was again named MVP in 2015. When Lisch gained Australian citizenship on March 24, 2016, his sterling performances in Australia quickly pushed him into the national team conversation under head coach Andrej Lemanis.

In July, Lisch shared his thoughts on being selected for the Olympic team with his hometown newspaper, the Belleville News-Democrat. In the interview, he spoke about his pride in being able to represent Australia, especially with his Australian wife and two kids watching on. He also mentioned the satisfaction he took from being able to represent his family and all of their hard work on the basketball court. His opportunity to play in the Olympics, he said, was a product of the hard work of his parents in raising him and his siblings.

In the Rio Olympics, Lisch proved to be a solid contributor to his team, which included NBA players Andrew Bogut (Dallas Mavericks), Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs), Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz), Matthew Dellavedova (Milwaukee Bucks), Cameron Bairstow (Chicago Bulls) and Aron Baynes (Detroit Pistons).

He averaged 14.0 minutes per game and 2.6 points per game. One of his strongest performances came in Australia’s opening match against France, where he contributed 8 points to a landslide 87-66 Australia victory. He also made a strong showing against Spain in the bronze medal game, recording six rebounds, although Australia lost that match in  heartbreaking fashion, 89-88.

While the Australian basketball team may have ended their Olympic run in disappointment, Lisch will have plenty to look forward to in his basketball career. He recently joined the Sydney Kings on a three-year deal and his Olympic experience will only serve to strengthen his new team.

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