While he’s not playing in the FIBA World Cup, Ben Simmons still stole the show at the Boomers’ first training session in Melbourne on Saturday.
The NBA superstar last month pulled out of the World Cup and upcoming exhibition games against the USA but said he planned to still train with the Australian squad with an eye on next year’s Olympics.
Simmons was welcomed by his teammates at their training session, later joining the likes of Andrew Bogut to watch AFL sides Essendon go down to Port Adelaide.
The Philadelphia 76ers guard said he pulled out of the World Cup warm-up games so the team could properly prepare their game-style for the tournament.
Fellow NBA ace Patty Mills said the players respected and supported Simmons.
“We’ve all respected his decision, but him being still committed to being part of the group and our preparations is huge,” Mills said.
“We’ll continue to grow relationships with him and vice-versa – we’re one big family and we want to go and create history.”
The San Antonio Spurs veteran was happy to have Simmons on deck, whatever his role, and opposing him at training could only be a good thing for the team.
“He’s obviously committed to being a valued part of our preparations for the World Cup … he’s part of our group, he will be for a long time,” Mills said.
“The best thing about it with Ben is, he’s going to make us better at practice.
“The games are one thing but for him to go at us in practice is the best preparation for (the World Cup).