Two of the Sixers’ best defenders have been named in the Australian men’s basketball squad for the Tokyo Olympics.
Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle are included in the Boomers’ 24-man squad. Ryan Broekhoff, who was waived by the Sixers in December, is also part of the team. Australia will trim down to a 12-player roster before the Olympics.
Simmons is a native of Melbourne, Australia. Thybulle’s family moved to the country when he was 2 years old for his father’s work and lived there for several years. The 23-year-old is a dual citizen.
“I'm definitely proud of Australia,” he told Serena Winters last year. “Living outside of the U.S., I feel like you gain a certain perspective that you really can't get living here, just because so much of the world is dominated by the U.S., whether it's media or fashion or music, it's all powered through the U.S., and because we live here, we are kind of in this filter bubble of our own world. Growing up in Australia I think gave me, as a kid, perspective.”
Thybulle posted about the Boomers' squad reveal Tuesday night on his Instagram story.
Brian Goorjian will coach the Boomers after former Sixers head coach Brett Brown stepped down from his role leading the national team in October. Australia is currently ranked No. 3 in the world and finished fourth in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The team’s chances of a medal would clearly rise if Simmons participates.
“It would be an amazing honour to play for my country,” Simmons said in a Basketball Australia press release. “I know things are uncertain right now but I’ve been in touch with Coach Goorjian and we’re hopeful I can join the Boomers.”
The opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics, which have been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is set for July 23. The NBA playoffs will conclude as late as July 22, which could be a relevant factor for Simmons and Thybulle if the Sixers make a deep run.
Thybulle and Simmons were menacing and disruptive at the top of the Sixers’ zone defense Sunday night in the team’s comeback win over the Pacers. Perhaps they’ll team up in a similar way on an international stage.