The Sixers’ 2018-19 preseason slate just got a bit of international flavor.
The Sixers will host the National Basketball League’s Melbourne United on Sept. 28 at the Wells Fargo Center. Melbourne United will be the first of five NBL teams to play seven games against NBA teams during the upcoming preseason between Sept. 28 and Oct. 5.
The matchup is significant for the Sixers because of Brett Brown and Ben Simmons’ ties to the league.
Head coach and interim general manager, Brown, served as coach in the NBL from 1988-98 and 2000-02. Brown was an assistant on the 1993 Melbourne championship team. He also had stints as the head coach of the North Melbourne Giants (1993-98) and Sydney Kings (2000-02) as he won two championships (1994 and 2002) and was named NBL Coach of the Year in 1994.
“My history in Australia and my history especially with Australian basketball has helped shape my current status as an NBA head coach,” Brown, who also spent time as an assistant on the Australian national team between 1995 and 2003, said in a statement. “The basketball scene is extremely well-organized, extremely well-coached, and the growth of the game is not to be disputed. The wonderful Australian culture only adds to the rise of the game. Australia has been good to me and I am thrilled to be able to give back in some small way.”
Melbourne native Simmons has a direct connection to Melbourne United through his family. The new Rookie of the Year’s father, David Simmons, played in the NBL for the Melbourne Tigers (now Melbourne United; 1989-96), the Newcastle Falcons (1997, 1998-99), Sydney Kings (1998) and Canberra Cannons (1999-2001). David Simmons led that 1993 Melbourne team to the title with Brown as an assistant and had his No. 25 jersey, that his son now wears for the Sixers, retired by the Tigers.
“We are fortunate to have a head coach in Brett Brown and dynamic young star in Ben Simmons who have rich histories and foundations in Australia,” Sixers managing partner David Blitzer said. “To have the chance to play Melbourne United in Philadelphia later this year is special not only for them, but for our entire organization. Interest in the 76ers brand has skyrocketed in new markets all over the world, especially Australia, and we embrace this opportunity to compete on this stage against such a respected NBL team.”
Melbourne United, Adelaide 36ers, New Zealand Breakers, Perth Wildcats and Sydney Kings will play seven total games against the Sixers, Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz to mark the most from an international league in a single preseason.