MELBOURNE, Australia -- Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons will play for Australia at the 2019 FIBA World Cup after being confirmed alongside eight of his NBA colleagues in the Boomers' initial 17-man squad.
Basketball Australia's announcement on Thursday morning formally ends months of national team speculation around the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year who hasn't competed for Australia since winning gold at the 2013 Oceania Championships.
Boomers assistant coach Adam Caporn, who will work alongside Andrej Lemanis at the World Cup in China later this year, says having Simmons in the team is a huge morale boost for all the players and coaching staff.
"It was a great day [when Simmons committed]," Caporn said. "Amazing. We're very, very excited. The way Ben plays will fit seamlessly into what the Boomers do. I think we're all really excited about the squad now.
"The players put a lot of work in to attract each other and building a really strong culture. One of the strengths we have with the Boomers is they put the team first and that becomes really apparent when you join. The enthusiasm to play for the Boomers is really special."
Simmons, 22, will be joined in the camp by fellow NBA talents and Boomers regulars Aron Baynes (Boston Celtics), Andrew Bogut (Golden State Warriors), Jonah Bolden (Philadelphia 76ers), Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers), Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz) and Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs).
However, Thon Maker will join the growing list of notable absentees after the Detroit Pistons told Basketball Australia they prefer he skip the upcoming internationals and instead focus on his development this NBA off-season.
It follows news that Dallas Mavericks forward Ryan Broekhoff would not participate in the campaign as he and wife Katie prepare for the arrival of their first child. Meanwhile, Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum has been struck down with a partially torn patellar tendon, ruling him out as well.
Australia, who have never reached the final four at the World Cup, have been pooled alongside Canada, Senegal and Lithuania in Group H and will open their campaign against the Canadians on September 1st in Dongguan.
Ingles says it's arguably the strongest Boomers squad ever assembled and the group already has high expectations.
"Since I've been involved I feel like we've got better and stronger as we've progressed through the last few Olympics and world championships," Ingles said. "This is such an exciting group and we're confident we can do something special and bring a gold medal home and be the first team to do that."
Ahead of the World Cup, the Boomers will play four highly-anticipated warm-up games, two against Canada in Perth and another two against the United States at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.
The team will then enter a final training camp before heading to China for the World Cup.
Australia's 17-man 2019 World Cup squad: Deng Adel, Aron Baynes, Todd Blanchfield, Andrew Bogut, Jonah Bolden, Mitch Creek, Matthew Dellavedova, Cameron Gliddon, Chris Goulding, Joe Ingles, Nick Kay, Jock Langdale, Mitchell McCarron, Patty Mills, Brock Motum, Ben Simmons and Nathan Sobey.