Simmons among nine NBA stars on Australia Olympic squad

Published February 3, 2021, 9:12 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers drives to the basket against the Indiana Pacers on January 31, 2021 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

Two-time NBA All-Star Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles and San Antonio Spurs’ Patty Mills were included Wednesday in Australia’s Tokyo Olympic squad as they target an elusive gold medal.

They are among nine NBA players on the team, although new head coach Brian Goorjian also opted for some young blood as Australia look to challenge basketball powers United States, Serbia and Spain for the podium.

Ranked three in the world, the Boomers will travel to Japan with a 24-man squad also featuring Aron Baynes (Toronto Raptors), Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers), and Josh Green (Dallas Mavericks).

But NBA championship-winning centre Andrew Bogut will not make the trip after announcing in December his immediate retirement after a 15-year career.

“It is a well-balanced squad selected by position with a nice blend of experience coupled with a lot of new and exciting players coming through,” said Goorjian.

“These are our top 24 available players and included is significant representation from the NBL, showing the strength of our local league where the standard of competition is recognised worldwide. 

“I have spoken to each player over the past fortnight and have been extremely impressed, to a man, by their overwhelming desire to play for Australia in Tokyo,” he added.

American veteran Goorjian only assumed the role in November after former Philadelphia 76ers’ coach Brett Brown suddenly quit, throwing their preparations into disarray.

But he is vastly experienced, leading Australia at the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Tokyo will be the fourth Olympics for both Mills and Ingles who in a joint statement said they were honoured.

“We are both excited to again be named in the Australian Boomers squad and we are determined to lead this group of both veteran experience and exciting younger talent to an elusive Olympic medal,” they said.