MELBOURNE, Australia -- Boomers guard Chris Goulding has laughed off the suggestion the upcoming Australia vs. USA basketball series won't be worth watching after a host of American superstars have withdrawn.
When the two-game exhibition series at Melbourne's Marvel Stadium was first announced early last year, the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and James Harden were all expected to take part. But as the August 22 and 24 dates draw near, more and more of the high-profile American NBA stars have pulled the pin on the Australia tour as well as the upcoming FIBA World Cup.
As things stand, the most notable Team USA squad member who will travel to Melbourne is Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker. He will be joined by teammates Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as well as Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton and Utah Jazz youngster Donovan Mitchell.
While Goulding can understand why some fans might be getting frustrated with the many withdrawals, he's urged everyone to adopt a slightly different mentality.
"I can understand it's disappointing that the so called biggest names aren't going to be there, but when you're talking about Team USA and the likes of Middleton and Walker, these are superstars of our game," Goulding told ESPN. "The way I see it is Australians have been wanting an NBA team to come here for years and even with these withdrawals, the Team USA that competes will still have more talent than any NBA team.
"They may not be as strong on paper as if they had LeBron or Curry or Harden, but by no mean feat do we think they are going to be easily beatable.
"Either way, to see Australia's NBA stars wearing the green and gold is a spectacle in itself and one which should sell out Marvel Stadium."
Goulding, 30, was part of the Boomers squad that fell just short of a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, and he knows just how taxing the additional national team work can be for some of the world's top players.
"Guys are playing 100 plus games of 48-minutes basketball and a World Cup campaign could be another 15 games on top of that," he told ESPN. "Although players generally like representing their country, sometimes they have to put their personal interests first.
"When you go through the Olympics and World Cups, the roster is so fluid, you can never bank on who is actually going to be there."