David Blitzer

Sixers to host Australia's Melbourne United in 2018-19 preseason game

Sixers to host Australia's Melbourne United in 2018-19 preseason game

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.

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Sixers to face Celtics at London's O2 Arena

Sixers to face Celtics at London's O2 Arena

The Sixers are heading to London.

They will take on the Celtics at The O2 Arena on Jan. 11, 2018. This will count as a home game for the Sixers. CSN will broadcast the game. 

“The NBA has done an exceptional job of attracting and cultivating fans from across the world, and we’re thrilled to bring the Philadelphia 76ers to London, a special city with rich culture and tradition,” president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said.

The Sixers last played in the U.K. during the 2013 preseason as part of the NBA Global Games Manchester against the Thunder. This game will be a return to London for Brett Brown. He coached the Australian national team there for the 2012 Olympics. 

“Participating in NBA London Game 2018 is a great opportunity for our players to compete in front of an international audience at the historic O2 Arena,” Brown said. “The basketball fans there are very passionate and I am looking forward to playing the Celtics there in January.”

Tickets for the London game will go on sale in October. Because this is a home game for the Sixers, season-ticket members who have paid in full for the season have two options. They can request a refund for the game or put the charges toward a credit for future games.

The scenario is different for season-ticket members on an automatic payment plan. They will not be charged for this game and it will be removed from their plan statements in January. 

The Sixers have close ties to professional sports in London. Managing general partner Josh Harris and co-managing general partner David Blitzer co-own Crystal Palace F.C. of the EPL. Crystal Palace will play Burney two days after the Sixers’ game. 

“This is a tremendous opportunity to showcase our dynamic team filled with exciting international players to a fan base that has a clear passion for world-class sporting events,” Harris said. 

Echoed Blitzer, who lived in London for 10 years, “It’s really exciting and encouraging to see the NBA continue to skyrocket in popularity internationally.”

The Sixers also are linked to London through their esports franchise, Team Dignitas, whose president and founder Michael “ODEE” O’Dell lives in the city. 

“With the support of our international fans and our family of dynamic sports and entertainment brands awaiting our arrival, we anticipate a very welcoming experience,” chief executive officer Scott O’Neil said.

The complete 2017-18 regular season schedule is expected to be released in the coming days. The Sixers will kick off their preseason action on Oct. 4 against the Grizzlies at the Wells Fargo Center. They also reportedly will play the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Christmas.