Seven NBA players feature in Australia’s preliminary Olympic squad

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Canberra, March 7 (IANS) Seven National Basketball Association (NBA) players have been called up in Australia’s preliminary 26-man squad for the Rio Olympics, despite questions remaining on whether or not their franchises will allow them to play in it.

The Australian team, nicknamed the Boomers, announced the squad on Monday, with the United States based NBA players Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills, Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes and Cameron Bairstow being listed, reports Xinhua.

Also named in the squad was the much hyped college player Ben Simmons, who currently plies the trade for Louisiana State University.

Simmons is expected to be top pick in this year’s NBA draft, but might be barred from playing at the Olympics if his new team doesn’t want him to risk injury.

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The same goes for injured Utah Jazz point guard Dante Exum. The Australian is still recovering from a knee reconstruction and has not played for the Jazz this season.

Exum’s Jazz teammate Joe Ingles said it would be up to the team management whether or not Exum would be allowed to put on the green and gold jersey for the Boomers in Rio.

“It’s a hard situation,” Ingles said. “The Jazz are the ones that are paying your salary, so it’s likely he can see their point of view of being hesitant to let him go.

“But obviously you have to flip it over as well, and Dante is extremely passionate to play for Australia.

“We hope he’s there, we hope he’s healthy, and hope he can play with us (in Rio).”

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The squad will be cut to 16 for the team’s selection camp to be held from July 5 to July 10, but all players who play in NBA are expected to make the cut.

Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis said his final squad would be selected depending on great “chemistry” in order to have a shot at a medal at the Olympics.

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