Ben Simmons says it would be an amazing honour to play for Australia and is hopeful of playing for the Boomers at this year’s Olympic Games, after being included in a star-studded 24-man squad.
- Melbourne-born Ben Simmons is now an NBA All-Star but says he wants to play for Australia at the Tokyo Olympics
- Simmons is one of a number of NBA players named, along with Matisse Thybulle, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills
- Both the Boomers and Opals have learned who they will be facing at the Tokyo Olympics
The Melbourne-born NBA All-Star and his Philadelphia 76ers’ teammate Matisse Thybulle, a dual citizen who spent seven years in Australia as a child, were the notable additions to a squad named on Wednesday that features 12 players with NBA experience.
The Olympics, if they go ahead, will follow immediately after the NBA Finals, adding another cloud for the likes of Simmons to compete given the 76ers’ strong start to the season.
But, after a late withdrawal from the Boomers’ 2019 World Cup campaign, Simmons said he intended to wear the green and gold as Australia’s men target a first international tournament medal.
“It would be an amazing honour to play for my country,” Simmons said.
NBA stalwarts Joe Ingles and Patty Mills are slated to play in their fourth Olympics while Aron Baynes has established himself as one of the NBA’s prominent centres in recent years and starred at the last World Cup.
Matthew Dellavedova, Ryan Broekhoff, Chris Goulding and Brock Motum were also part of the Boomers’ Olympic campaign in 2016, while top NBA draft prospect Josh Giddey (Adelaide 36ers) has been included as one of eight NBL players.
Dallas Mavericks draftee Josh Green, Will McDowell-White, Will Magnay and Duop Reath have been named to the Boomers for the first time while Jonah Bolden — an 11th-hour withdrawal from the World Cup team — has not been named after missing out on an NBA contract this season.
“It is a well-balanced squad selected by position with a nice blend of experience coupled with a lot of new and exciting players coming through,” Goorjian said.
“These are our top 24 available players and included is significant representation from the NBL, showing the strength of our local league where the standard of competition is recognised worldwide.
“I have spoken to each player over the past fortnight and have been extremely impressed, to a man, by their overwhelming desire to play for Australia in Tokyo.”
Both the Boomers and the Opals have also found out who they will be playing in Tokyo after FIBA held the official draw for the tournament.
The Opals, placed in group C, will face Puerto Rico, China and Belgium, while the Boomers will play Nigeria and the winners of two yet-to-be-held FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.
The top-two finishers in each group, plus the two best third-placed teams in the group stage, will qualify for the knockout section of the tournament.