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18 May 2019 00:26

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76ers' Ben Simmons Announces He'll Play for Australia in 2019 FIBA World Cup

Kendall Jenner shared some rare insights into her dating life with Philadelphia 76er Ben Simmons in a recent interview with Vogue Australia. Jenner, 23, who is reportedly dating the young NBA star — and who was once a fixture at home games here in Philly, creating something of a small phenomena — told Vogue in an article published Friday that the couple is still going strong, despite their rare appearances together. "Also I'm very young and right now I feel like relationships aren't always super-certain and I don't want to bring too much attention to something if you don't really know long term (what it's going to be). Although he's quickly becoming one of the best players in the NBA, Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons is still dealing with criticism thanks to his poor shooting abilities. It's unknown whether or not Jimmy Butler or Tobias Harris will return to the team, and although Joel Embiid is the anchor for Philadelphia, if both stars leave, that will take a huge chunk of shooting away.

With the Eastern Conference potentially wide open in the future, it'll be interesting to see if Ben Simmons ups his game over the summer, or if he just commits to being a ferocious force in the paint and elsewhere on the court. Ben Simmons addresses the media in his 76ers exit interview and explains how he plans to expand and develop his game for the next season. After months of speculation, Ben Simmons has confirmed his intention to pull on the Australian national singlet once again in the upcoming series against Team USA and Canada and September's FIBA World Cup in China. Simmons, who debuted for the Boomers as a teenager in the gold medal winning Oceania Championship side of 2013, posted a message on social media thanking the Philadelphia 76ers fans for their support following their heart breaking play-off exit, and dropped the national team bombshell. Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis had previously been cautious about adding Simmons to a star-studded roster featuring fellow NBA stars Joe Ingles, Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills and Aron Baynes, saying in December; "Ben wants to play for the Boomers but in terms of the World Cup he has a pretty important off-season coming up in the NBA." The addition of Simmons, who opted out of the 2016 Olympic squad to focus on his rookie NBA season, will be a huge boost for the Boomers who face Canada, Senegal and Lithuania in the pool stage at the FIBA World Cup in China later this year.

Simmons is now expected to link up with the rest of the Boomers squad in August as they face Canada in a two game series in Perth, and Team USA in front of over 100,000 fans at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, before heading to China. Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons announced on Twitter that he will be joining the Australian national team: "I am gonna be a Boomer for the upcoming events, so stay tuned," Simmons said, referring to Australia's team nickname. Australia is set to compete in the FIBA World Cup this summer, with games beginning on Aug. 31. He was only 18 years old during the last FIBA World Cup and didn't make the team, and he decided against competing at the 2016 Olympics while he prepared for the NBA draft. He finished this past season averaging 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game before helping the 76ers reach the second round of the playoffs.

Although the Boomers haven't had much success at the World Cup in the past, they reached the semifinals at the most recent Summer Olympics and should go into the summer with high expectations thanks to NBA talent like Simmons, Patty Mills, Joe Ingles and more. Ben Simmons was absolutely incredible in Philadelphia's win-or-go-home Game 6 NBA playoff victory over Toronto on Thursday. In a game where Jimmy Butler dominated, and Joel Embiid was a mind-boggling plus-42 in 34 minutes, the reigning Rookie of the Year made all the difference. Ben Simmons (21 PTS & 8 REB) & Joel Embiid (17 PTS & 12 REB) helped handle business for the @sixers to tie up the series at 3 games a piece! If this is the Ben Simmons the Sixers can count on every game, they should be just as much a favorite to win the title as any other East team.

Another reason: Simmons is the Sixers de facto point guard, even though his game could be equally effective as a small-ball center a la Draymond Green. Ben Simmons might wear blame for Philadelphia 76ers' NBA Playoff woes, but is that fair? Ben Simmons's quest for a spot in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals is over for another season after his Philadelphia 76ers fell to a dramatic 92-90 defeat against the Toronto Raptors in game seven. Toronto star Kawhi Leonard's brutal buzzer-beating shot — one that bounced off the rim four times before falling in, perfectly encapsulating the cut-throat drama of the do-or-die contest — was the difference in a game where Simmons finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Leonard broke free from Simmons to receive the ball with 4.2 seconds remaining before nailing the jump shot from the edge of the zone to sink the dagger into Philadelphia's season.

The defeat marks the second time in as many seasons that the 76ers have fallen in the second round of the playoffs, and some Philadelphia fans have placed the blame squarely on Simmons's young shoulders. Twice this NBA postseason, fans and pundits alike have shone the spotlight on Simmons's weaknesses as being a key reason as to why the 76ers have stumbled in the playoffs, however, he has responded in the best possible way on both occasions. Booed off the court after the first game of this year's playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets, Simmons exploded with a triple-double in the very next game and followed that up with a whopping 31 points in game three to help create the platform to send his team into the second round. In that match, Simmons endured a shocker, scoring just seven points, seven rebounds and four assists, prompting everyone from the supporters in the stands to former All-Star power forward Charles Barkley to stick the knife in, the latter saying Simmons simply "has to play a lot better". Not according to 76ers coach Brett Brown, who contends that a player of Simmons's age will always be prone to playing at an inconsistent level.

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"He's 22 years old," Brown said after the game six victory. "As he grows his shot and tries to get a better command of his position, and deals with the stage of the NBA playoffs, shame on us for thinking he's gonna be like this all day, every day, 'here he is and he's going to knock it out of the park'. "What he did [in game six] was lots of the reasons he was an NBA All-Star at age 22, as an NBA point guard with the ball." "You want to move Ben Simmons to some far off land where he's going to dominate the NBA for the next 12 years. "Last night, [Philadelphia's] biggest game in 19 years and [Simmons] was money." Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson are the only two players who have better numbers than Simmons after their first 20 post-season games. Simmons averaged 17.2 points per game against the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of this year's playoffs, but that dropped to 11.6 points per game against the Raptors, with just 4.9 assists per game. ESPN analyst Jalen Rose said that Simmons's inability to shoot threes hurts the team's other star, Joel Embiid, suggesting drastic action if the Sixers want to build their team around Embiid — that they must trade Simmons, a huge call for a former number one draft pick. When the playoffs come and the game slows down, you want Joel Embiid in the post — not at the three-point line," Rose said. "I feel like if you're going to build around Joel Embiid, that means trading Ben Simmons. With Simmons in the team, the platform is there for Philadelphia to make a decent run toward a Championship in the coming seasons. He's a mega star of the game and it's amazing for basketball to have him committing to play for Australia at the World Cup. Australian basketball is in an amazing phase and, in generations to come, it may not be enough to simply play in the NBA to even get a game for the Boomers. NBA: After losing game 7 in heartbreaking fashion, Ben Simmons was in no mood to talk to a reporter about his apparent lack of jump shot. Ben Simmons had more turnovers than field goals 3 times against the Raptors (Games 2, 5, 7). Kawhi magic eliminates 76ers 1:43 NBA: Raptors guard Kawhi Leonard sunk a buzzer-beater in the final seconds to help Toronto eliminate Philadelphia in game seven of the Eastern Conference semi-final playoff.