Basketball: Simmons opts out of World Cup in blow for Australia
NBA star Ben Simmons has committed to playing in the Boomers’ exhibition series against Canada and Team USA
Ben Simmons will play for Australia against the USA but will miss the FIBA World Cup in China.
Simmons, who turns 23 this week, announced his intentions on Wednesday morning after finalising an NBA $US170 million ($242 million), five-year contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.
While the full details of Simmons’ availability are yet to be explained, he said in a statement on his website that he would return to Melbourne shortly and would train and play with the Boomers in their “exhibition games” but would miss the World Cup to return to Philadelphia and prepare for the new NBA season.
The best case would see him play all four of the Boomers’ games in Australia –two against Canada in Perth on August 16 and 17, then the two showdowns with Team USA at Marvel Stadium on August 22 and 24.
Simmons was caught between the need to rest and to work on his game and the desire to play for his country. He also remains strongly committed to playing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“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 [US] summer,” Simmons said.
“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 honoured and humbled to represent my country on the world’s biggest sporting stage at the Olympics in Tokyo.
— Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25) July 16, 2019
“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.”
The Boomers have already had Thon Maker (NBA commitments) and Ryan Broekhoff (new baby) withdraw from the World Cup campaign but still have a strong core of NBA veterans to call on.