Waking up Monday morning to the news that Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna had died was a truly heartbreaking experience.
Basketball superstar Ben Simmons has made himself available for the Boomers this year, in a massive boost for Australia’s medal chances at the FIBA World Cup.
Two days after the Philadelphia 76ers’ heartbreaking NBA play-off exit, Simmons posted a video on social media for his Australian fans on Wednesday (AEST).
“I’d also like to announce that I am going to be a Boomer for the upcoming events. So stay tuned,” he said.
Simmons’s pledge to the green and gold would strengthen a squad that will also feature Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes and Matthew Dellavedova as they chase a maiden international medal at the World Cup in China from August 31.
It would also boost the Boomers’ Olympic hopes in Tokyo next year after they were cruelly denied a medal in Brazil.
Before that the Australian squad will gather on home soil for double-headers against both Canada and USA in Perth and Melbourne respectively.
Previously rated $76 outsiders by some betting agencies, the Boomers shot to $21 to win the World Cup on the back of Simmons’s brief video.
Unlike his Australian NBA colleagues, Simmons had hesitated to commit to the cause during the season, while his future at the 76ers remains clouded.
The 22-year-old NBA All-Star is eligible for a five-year, $A220 million contract extension with the Sixers in July, but there is speculation the team could trade him if they receive the right players in return.
Australia’s former Chicago Bulls champion Luc Longley has remained in contact with the Boomers’ NBA players this season while Simmons’s godfather David Patrick added as an assistant coach for the national team in April.
Simmons’s 76ers were knocked out of the NBA championship race on Monday (AEST) in a thrilling game seven loss to Toronto Raptors, courtesy of Kawhi Leonard’s epic buzzer-beater.