Basketball world cup door remains open for Simmons

·3-min read

Australian basketball superstar Ben Simmons remains in contention to rejoin the national side, with Boomers head coach Brian Goorjian keeping the door open for the much-maligned player to make a return ahead of the world cup.

The three-time NBA All-Star missed the end of the NBA season with Brooklyn due to a back complaint and was left out of last week's 18-man training squad announced.

But Goorjian signalled the 26-year-old could still put his case forward for selection should he overcome his health hurdle, having reserved a spot at the camp for the Nets star.

A 15-man squad will hold a training session in Cairns before jetting off to Japan for their world cup campaign.

"Nothing's changed all the way through," Goorjian said.

"He didn't make the finish of this season, and he definitely wants to be back.

"This will be great for him, great for us, and it's all about health and he's working right now to get healthy for the camp."

Ahead of basketball's pinnacle event, a stacked Boomers squad featuring up to 10 NBA players will make a long-awaited return to Melbourne for a warm-up tournament.

The national men's side will take on fellow world cup-bound countries Brazil (world No.13), Venezuela (17) and a rising South Sudan (62) side at Rod Laver Arena for the first time in seven years.

Fans can expect to see big NBA names including Josh Giddey, Dyson Daniels, Matisse Thybulle, Xavier Cooks, Joe Ingles, Jock Landale, Josh Green, Jack White, Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova line up for the world No.3 Boomers.

Simmons is a chance to appear but the talent, who fell from grace in 2021 after a messy trade from Philadelphia and garnered further controversy after passing on a chance to represent Australia at the Tokyo Olympics, will need to prove himself.

A return wouldn't be guaranteed for the talented point guard, with Goojian lauding the depth of the squad that has already been picked.

Even so, up to four players could be cut from the squad before the Melbourne games.

"We've got 18 guys, we'll probably bring that to 15 when it comes to these three games here," Goorjian said.

"It's pretty difficult, it's pretty competitive in a lot of positions.

"The staff right now is talking about the camp, talking about the style of play, looking at games in the NBA that these guys played in and start putting some names and numbers on the board.

"I dont think we've got a team of this quality play at home for a long, long time.

"This may be the best group of players ever assembled by Australia, so an exciting time for basketball.

"The games will be important in selection. Practice is one thing, but the games are the other. The games will really help us in the decisions."

All sides will be looking to head into the world cup with some wins under their belt, which is a key qualification event for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Australia will face Finland, Germany and co-hosts Japan in Okinawa, with the champion to be crowned in the Philippines on September 10.