Patty Mills during the Rio Olympics. Pic: AFP
Patty Mills during the Rio Olympics. Pic: AFP

Simmons, Mills in pre-Olympic tour

BASKETBALL Australia have kickstarted talks for full-strength Boomers and Opals teams to host a national tour in the lead-up to the 2019 China World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A day after NBL boss Larry Kestelman revealed his plans for our NBA stars to play on home soil, BA CEO Anthony Moore confirmed a number of international games involving the likes of Ben Simmons, Patty Mills and Joe Ingles were also in the pipeline.

Australia will be out to put Rio heartbreak behind them Pic: AFP
Australia will be out to put Rio heartbreak behind them Pic: AFP

Moore said the goal was for every capital city, including Hobart, to host the strongest Boomers and Opals line-ups in crucial lead-up games against strong opponents from Europe and Asia.

The goal is to have the national tour, including players and teams, locked down by the first quarter of 2018.

"It's really exciting for us because it's an opportunity for us to showcase our national teams to the country," Moore told The Daily Telegraph.

"We are talking to a lot of international federations like Spain, Serbia, Argentina and Brazil about planning visits to Australia throughout 2019 and 2020.

"In previous years we'd turn up every two years to qualify for a major event and play one or two games and we'd be off, but it's about lifting the profile of our two national teams.

"I've told both head coaches we have the opportunity to host games here and we don't have to get on the road and chase games around the world.

"It will also be the actual teams that go to the tournament, so we've already done the selection camp and coaches have selected their teams.

"It will be the best teams and with eight or nine guys in the NBA you'd expect a significant amount of those guys to be playing in these games."

In addition to showcasing our NBA talent, Basketball Australia also wants to incorporate the NBL as a legitimate breeding ground and pathway.

"The NBL is doing a great job with their clubs, so it would be great to engage them," he said.

"For example, if we played Spain in Perth for instance it would be great to work with the Wildcats and market their awesome crowd that turn up week-in and week-out.

"We worked with the 36ers when we took the first Boomers qualifier to Adelaide, so that's certainly something we'll entertain.

"We also have an opportunity to play a game in Hobart and support the great work that basketball Tasmania are doing."

Moore is also happy to support Larry Kestelman and his NBL team in their plans for our Australian NBA stars to play on home soil.

However, he said any event involving the likes of Simmons, Ingles and Mills would come down to timing around their NBA commitments.

"That's the difficult part with the international calendar," he said.

"Your windows are across November and February and June and September.

"We could quite possibly have access to our NBA players in June for those that have missed Finals or gone out in the early rounds, but we don't have them in September as they are back reporting to clubs.

"The advantage of having them in the lead-up to the World Cup or the Olympics is that they will be in the team and we'll have their full focus, but it will ultimately come down to schedule."

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