76ers’ Ben Simmons to skip FIBA World Cup, will play for Australia in Olympics

Shaquille O’Neal goes wild in mosh pit at Tomorrowland

Ben Simmons will not play for Australia in the FIBA World Cup this summer.

The 76ers star made the announced Tuesday and will instead focus on preparing for the 2019-20 season with Philadelphia.

“I wanted to let everyone know that after consulting with my representation, I’ve made the difficult decision to forego playing in the World Cup in China this summer,” Simmons said in a statement he released on Twitter. “I will still be heading back home to Australia to host my camps as well as train and play with the Boomers in the upcoming Exhibition Games.

“I’m really excited about the talent we have on the Boomers squad, especially moving close to 2020 where I will be honored and humbled to represent my country on the world’s biggest sporting stage at the Olympics in Tokyo.

“Ultimately, we decided it was best that I use the time in September to return to Philadelphia to acquaint myself with my new teammates and prepare for the upcoming NBA season.”

The 76ers selected Simmons with the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and he’s played a large role in the team’s resurgence as an oversized, do-it-all playmaker.

Philadelphia put together one of the most talented starting lineups in basketball last season, featuring Simmons, Joel Embiid, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. But its 51-31 record ranked third in the Eastern Conference.

The 76ers lost Butler and Redick this summer, but acquired Josh Richardson and Al Horford, giving them tremendous defensive potential. It’s clear they are focused on winning now, and Kawhi Leonard joining the Clippers gives them a better chance of doing that this year, as they fell the Raptors in seven games in the postseason.

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