Ben Simmons to play in upcoming Boomers exhibition games
We won't be seeing Ben Simmons in the green and gold at the FIBA 2019 World Cup, but he will be suiting up for the Boomers this year - in Australia.
Following news on a 5-year, $170 million extension with the Philadelphia 76ers, Simmons released a statement on his Twitter account this morning, confirming his commitment to the Boomers in next year's 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the upcoming exhibition games in Australia.
The statement reads:
First and foremost, I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to congratulate me on the extension with the 76ers. Philly means so much to me and I'm already excited for next season.
I wanted to let everyone know that after consulting with my representation, I've made the difficult decision to forego playing in the World Cup in China this summer.
I will still be heading back home to Australia to host my camps as well as train and play with the Boomers in the upcoming Exhibition Games. I'm really excited about the talent we have on the Boomers squad, especially moving closer to 2020 where I will be honored and humbled to represent my country on the world's biggest sporting stage at the Olympics in Tokyo.
Ultimately, we decided it was best that I use the time in September to return to Philadelphia to acquaint myself with my new teammates and prepare for the upcoming NBA season.
I appreciate Basketball Australia for their support and understanding. I look forward to working with my Boomers coaches and teammates over the next few weeks to start working towards our ultimate team goal of winning a medal at the Olympics.
Simmons' participation in the games will impact the complexion of the roster in the leadup to the World Cup, and requires the team to adapt from exhibition games to the actual tournament. Having an athletic finisher and transition passer like Simmons at the point guard spot, in contrast to Matthew Dellavedova's playmaking or Patty Mills' explosive scoring, would require significant adjustments.
One could even make an argument that it might not be the best idea, in terms of building roster chemistry for the World Cup. Distant as it may sound, this could still be a good opportunity for Simmons to build rapport with his Boomers teammates, in preparation for the Olympics next year.
But to the fans who have already bought tickets to the exhibition games, it does offer a measure of relief. They will have an opportunity to see Australia's first ever NBA All-Star suit up in a Boomers jersey and play against elite competition at home.
The Australian Boomers play Team USA on 22 and 24 August 2019, and Canada Basketball on 16 and 17 August.