(Reuters) – Philadelphia 76ers guard-forward Ben Simmons said it would be an “amazing honour” to represent Australia in this year’s Olympic Games after being named in Basketball Australia’s 24-man squad on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old was one of 12 players with NBA experience, with the Boomers’ squad for Tokyo also comprising nine current NBL players and three who play in Europe.
This year’s postponed Games will take place from July 23-Aug. 8 and follows the NBA Finals but Simmons said he was hopeful he would be able to compete in Tokyo.
Simmons’ 76ers currently atop the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings with 15 wins and six defeats.
“It would be an amazing honour to play for my country. I know things are uncertain right now but I’ve been in touch with coach (Brian) Goorjian and we’re hopeful I can join the Boomers,” Simmons said.
The double NBA All-Star had skipped the World Cup in 2019 to focus on his NBA preparations, dealing a blow to Australia’s hopes of claiming a maiden title in the competition.
Three-times Olympians Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz) and Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs) were included in the squad but Andrew Bogut was missing after he called time on his career in December.
“My last experience with the Boomers was at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 when Andrew was part of the team and it’s amazing how strong the green and gold culture has grown in importance to the players since then,” Goorjian said.
“Although Andrew is irreplaceable as a player, he has certainly left his mark and will be an important sounding board for the group and for me, as we make this journey to win Australia’s first medal.”
An official 12-member men’s basketball squad for Tokyo will be named by the Australian Olympic Committee later this year.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru)