''Strong chance'' to see Ben Simmons at World Cup
MELBOURNE (Australia) - The long wait to see Ben Simmons play again for Australia could end this summer with Boomers coach Brian Goorjian revealing "there is a really strong chance that he plays" at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Australia, No. 3 in the FIBA World Ranking and the bronze medal winners at the Tokyo Olympics - their first podium finish at a Summer Games or a World Cup - will need all hands on deck just to reach the Second Round at the 32-team tournament being staged in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia from August 25 to September 10.
At Saturday's FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Draw presented by Wanda in Manila, Australia ended up in Group E with Finland, Germany and Japan, with the games to be played in Okinawa. The group is considered by some as the "Group of Death", spelling how tough the road could be for the Boomers.
Simmons, 26, the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and one of the most talented players ever to hail from Down Under, played for his country's senior national team, in an official competition, at the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championship, shortly before his 17th birthday.
His professional career, after a standout high school stint at Montverde Academy and one year at Louisiana State University, has been full of highs and lows. Named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2018, Simmons has since been a three-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team Selection.
He has endured his share of injuries, however. Simmons missed the entire 2021-22 season after having a back operation.
Simmons had a difficult divorce from Philadelphia, who traded him to Brooklyn in February of 2022. Simmons played 42 games this season for Brooklyn but injuries led to the Nets shutting him down before the play-offs.
"I think his (Ben's) mindset is getting healthy, getting in shape and getting ready to play," Goorjian said to SEN Radio.
"And I think he has been along that line for a while and I felt it last time.
"As we sit now, I think there is a really strong chance (that he plays at the World Cup)."
"There were unfortunate circumstances (he missed the Tokyo Olympics), but I feel like he is going to make himself available," Goorjian said.
Throughout his career, Simmons' Australian colleagues in the NBA have been supportive, and especially Nets teammate Pat Mills.
Playing for his country this summer at the World Cup could be just what Simmons needs to spark his career to life, to feel positive vibes and help him get his career back on track.