CANBERRA — Seven players of the National Basketball Association (NBA) have been called up in Australia’s preliminary 26-man basketball squad for the Rio Olympics, despite questions remaining on whether or not their teams will allow them to play in it.
The Australian team, nicknamed the Boomers, announced the squad on Monday, with NBA players Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills, Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes and Cameron Bairstow being listed.
Also named in the squad was the much-hyped college player Ben Simmons, who currently plies trade for Louisiana State University.
Simmons is expected to be top pick in this year’s NBA draft, but might be barred from playing at the Olympics if his new team doesn’t want to risk injury.
The same goes for injured Utah Jazz point guard Dante Exum. The Australian player is still recovering from a knee reconstruction and has not played for the Jazz this season.
Exum’s Jazz teammate Joe Ingles said it would be up to the team management as to whether or not Exum would be allowed to put on the green and gold jersey for the Boomers in Rio.
“It’s a hard situation,” Ingles said. “The Jazz are the ones that are paying your salary, so it’s likely he can see their point of view of being hesitant to let him go.”
“But obviously you have to flip it over as well, and Dante is extremely passionate to play for Australia.”
“We hope he’s there, we hope he’s healthy, and hope he can play with us (in Rio).”
The squad will be cut to 16 for the team’s selection camp to be held from July 5 to July 10, but all players who play in NBA are expected to make the cut.
Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis said his final squad would be selected depending on great “chemistry” in order to have a shot at medal at the Olympics.
“We have a fantastic core group of players that has been with us for a significant amount of time now and we have some exciting young talents added to the squad,” Lemanis said in a statement on Monday.
“It’s a case of the selection staff taking into account previous history with the Boomers, current form, injuries concern, chemistry and putting all that together.” PNA/Xinhua/northboundasia.com