When Australia suits up for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in late August, it will have Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons among the NBA names on its roster.
Basketball Australia officially announced the roster for its initial 17-man squad for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, which runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15 in China. Simmons leads a contingent of NBA players, which includes Deng Adel (Cleveland Cavaliers), Aron Baynes (Boston Celtics), Andrew Bogut (Golden State Warriors), Jonah Bolden (76ers), Matthew Dellavedova (Cavaliers), Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz) and Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs).
Austraila's roster will compete in the four warm-up games prior to the FIBA World Cup against Canada in Perth on Aug. 16 and 17 and USA Basketball in Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Aug. 22 and 24. Australia's team, known as the Boomers, finished fourth in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
“No doubt, we have the opportunity to put a great team on the floor and that’s exciting," Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis said in a statement Thursday. "Working with the best players in the country is such an honour and privilege – I feel extremely blessed to again have this opportunity."
The Boomers will open their selection camp in early August before heading to Perth and returning to Melbourne for their warm-up games.
Victorian Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Martin Pakula was excited about Australia squaring off against USA Basketball for the two exhibition games in Melbourne.
“Our calendar of major events is worth $1.8 billion to the economy every year and attractions such as the Boomers vs. USA Basketball blockbusters help to keep Victoria ahead of the pack," Pakula said. “The prospect of watching Ben Simmons and his Australian mates take on the giants of USA Basketball at Marvel Stadium has captivated fans around the country.”
Earlier this month, Simmons took to social media to let fans know he planned to play for Australia. The NBA All-Star told his fans to stay tuned about upcoming events in the video he posted on Twitter but he later confirmed on Weibo, the Chinese social media channel, that he was "looking forward to representing my country Australia" in the World Cup.
Australia coach Andrej Lemanis said in mid-May that Simmons' decision to return after skipping the 2016 Olympics reflected the positive vibes within the national set up. Australia's Boomers have never finished higher than fourth in the World Cup or Olympics but are growing in confidence with an increasing number of players in the NBA.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.