NBA All-Star guard Ben Simmons has withdrawn from Australia’s squad to face Canada and the United States in home exhibition matches next month.
Simmons had already made himself unavailable for the FIBA World Cup starting August 31 in China, choosing to prepare for the next NBA season after signing a £137m, five-year contract with the Philidelphia 76ers.
In a statement released on Sunday Simmons said he had made his decision after speaking to Australia coach Andrej Lemanis, and still hopes to play at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Ben Simmons in playoff action for the Philadelphia 76ers
“After talking with coach Andrej, we both agreed it was better for me to not participate in this year’s 2019 World Cup and exhibition games,” Simmons said.
“With our focus being to win a medal at the 2020 Olympics, the Boomers’ preparation in the lead up to the world championships is of the utmost importance and me not playing allows the team to create the chemistry they need to compete at the highest level and qualify for the Olympics.
“I want to thank Basketball Australia for their continued support and I’m committed and excited to compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.”
Australia host Canada in Perth on August 16 and 17 before facing the United States twice in Melbourne the following week.
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