Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons has explained why he won’t be underestimating Melbourne United when the two teams square off next month.
The Sixers and United will meet in a NBA preseason match on September 28, as the second year of NBLxNBA kicks off.
Melbourne almost pulled off an epic upset when they played Oklahoma City last season, losing to the star-studded Thunder by just one-point.
While Simmons admits some of his Philadelphia teammates may not be expecting much of a challenge from United, the Australian sensation knows underplaying the match-up is a dangerous proposition.
“That’s going to be a lot of fun, especially because I know it’s a good team,” Simmons said of the game against Melbourne.
“I know my teammates are probably looking at it, like, ‘we are in the NBA, no one can compete with us’, but I know they’re going to give us a good game.
“I’m pretty sure Melbourne played OKC last year and it was a one-point difference.
“Basketball here is great, there is a lot of talent, and guys can play the game.”
Defending NBL champions United have bolstered their roster this season, with Mitch McCarron, Daniel Trist and Alex Pledger joining the likes of Casper Ware, Josh Boone and Chris Goulding.
It’s anticipated the 76ers will continue their rise up the NBA’s Eastern Conference this season, with the young nucleus of Simmons, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric set to compete with the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors.
Philadelphia’s Australian roots grew this offseason, with the team signing Jonah Bolden to a four-year contract.
The clash with the Sixers will be the first of two NBLxNBA contests for Melbourne, with Dean Vickerman’s men also booked for an October 5 battle with Toronto.
The Perth Wildcats, Sydney Kings, New Zealand Breakers, Adelaide 36ers, Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoneix Suns and Denver Nuggets are the other clubs involved in this year’s NBLxNBA series.