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No Simmons 'unfortunate': Boomers coach

  • No Simmons 'unfortunate': Boomers coach

    Coach Andrej Lemanis says it's unfortunate the Boomers will be without Ben Simmons in Rio.

Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis is confident Australia's male basketballers still have what it takes to win a maiden Olympic medal in Rio without NBA prospect Ben Simmons.

Simmons, tipped to be the No.1 pick in June's NBA draft, has decided against playing at the 2016 Games to instead focus on his fledgling career.

Lemanis admits it was always going to be a long-shot to get the Melbourne-born 19-year-old to Brazil given the circumstances, but secretly hoped the stars would align.

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"It's obviously unfortunate that he's not able to join us for this campaign," he told AAP.

"But I totally get it in terms of where he's at in his career and the journey he's about go through with the NBA draft, what it's all going to mean for him and the commitments required as part of that.

"The best thing for Australian basketball is that our players are the best they can be.

"When the situation is right to come and play for the national team, he will be in a good position to help."

Lemanis said he and Basketball Australia did everything they could to try make it happen, committing time and resources to Simmons, his family and recently-appointed agent.

The coach visited the teenage phenomenon at Louisiana State University while on holiday in the US last November and again in February, and has met with his family on a number of occasions.

"I've stayed in constant contact with Ben over time, so we've put in a lot of effort to build that relationship and maintain communication around it," added Lemanis.

"It was always one of those things where the circumstances were just going to make it difficult."

Over the years a number of players have chosen to compete at an Olympics the same year they were high draft picks drafted - namely Christian Laettner, Emeka Okafor and Anthony Davis.

"Everyone makes decisions for their own reasons and I can't put myself in Ben's shoes; I'm not him," said Lemanis.

Simmons had been included in a preliminary 26-man squad, which will be cut down to 16 by mid-June ahead of the Boomers' only pre-Games camp from July 5.

Lemanis conceded there was no direct replacement for the 208cm prodigy, but had faith in a group which includes NBA stars Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Aron Baynes, Joe Ingles and Cameron Bairstow.

"I still feel confident of going and achieving what we've set out to achieve.

"Ben would've been a nice little addition with his versatility, but the other thing to remember is he's 19 years of age.

"What you need to be competitive in that environment is also some seasoned veterans, which we have an abundance of now."

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