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Ben Simmons commits to Australia's Boomers for World Cup in China
CANBERRA (Australia) - Australia phenom Ben Simmons has indicated he will don the Green & Gold and play for the Boomers at the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup in China.
Amidst speculation and uncertainty, the 22-year-old star of the Philadelphia 76ers announced on Wednesday that he would, in fact, be a Boomer this summer.
He put across the same message on his official Sina Weibo page, with more specific wording.
"Ni Hao China!" Simmons wrote on Weibo. "Thanks for all the support this season, it was a tough way to go out. I’m happy to say I’m looking forward to representing my country Australia in the upcoming @FIBA World Cup in China! Stay tuned."
Simmons and the Sixers suffered a painful exit from the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals when Toronto made a last season shot from the right corner at the end of Game 7.
Australia fans will be excited Simmons, arguably their biggest NBA star, prepares to join the senior national squad to play on the biggest stage.
With Simmons in tow, the Boomers get a much-needed boost in their stock heading to China, where they have been drawn in one of the toughest groups together with Canada, Lithuania and Senegal.
Only the top two teams in the group will progress from the First Round to the Second Round and Simmons' presence will give the Australians much-needed firepower.
The 6ft 9in (2.08m) playmaker will not be the only NBA player on Australia's squad. Patty Mills has already expressed his desire to help the country claim a first-ever podium finish at the world level and it is expected that Joe Ingles, Thon Maker, Aron Baynes, and Andrew Bogut will also be in the fold along with other big names when the Boomers' roster for the World Cup is revealed next week.
Simmons last played for Australia on his senior national team debut at the FIBA Oceania Championship in 2013 as a 17-year-old.
National team head coach Andrej Lemanis was thrilled upon hearing of Simmons' decision.
"Today's announcement from Ben is exciting and reaffirmation of the environment that exists within Australian basketball," Lemanis said. "The players are truly invested in the program and each other. They are always proud to wear the Boomers uniform and keen to represent Australian basketball on the world stage. It will be exciting to get the entire group together in Melbourne, and I look forward to seeing how it all comes together."
"I think Ben will really enjoy coming into this [Boomers] environment because the way he plays naturally fits into the way Australia plays.”— Basketball Australia (@BasketballAus) May 16, 2019
Watch the full press conference with coach Andrej Lemanis via @FoxBasketball here: https://t.co/5dZhwVsuh7 #GoBoomers #FIBAWC pic.twitter.com/Ig9bEnvORm
Lemanis believes Simmons will fit the national team's system well, and the young star's inclusion should help cultivate a highly competitive environment in the team.
"Ben is an amazing talent, and his skill set will add significantly to the team," Lemanis explained. "He has a phenomenal basketball IQ, an ability to create for himself and others and an obvious willingness to play in a team orientated environment. This will help the team in a multitude of ways."
Australia will tip their World Cup campaign off on September 1 in Dongguan, China, but they'll have a lot of preparation games before the biggest international basketball tournament begins. They are set to face Canada in a pair of tune-up contests in Perth on August 16 and 17, and then they will play Team USA in Melbourne on August 22 and 24.