Simmons had 10 first-half assists against Melbourne United. Picture: Getty
Simmons had 10 first-half assists against Melbourne United. Picture: Getty

Simmons’ insane moves stun Melbourne

BEN Simmons made it look so easy against Melbourne United, leading his Philadelphia 76ers to a 104-84 win in their clash.

It was a masterclass by the Australian superstar, who won player of the game for his dominating performance of  assists, points and dunks.

After the first half, Simmons had tallied a 76ers-high 18:33 minutes  on court for six points, six rebounds, two steals, one block and an easy game high 10 assists.

He had just under eight more minutes in the second half, finishing with eight points and 14 assists but a field goal percentage of just 44.4 on nine shots.

Speaking after the game, Simmons said it was just good to be back on the court.

"It was a lot of fun, it was getting back into the court, getting a feel for the game again, playing basketball is what we do so it was a lot of fun," he said.

Simmons has been given goals to draw more free throws and make an all-defensive team next season.

"That's what I'm working towards - every day I'm in the gym trying to get better," he said. "It's going to take a while to get to where I really want to be but that's how long greatness takes."

Even when nothing is going on, Simmons, the reigning NBA rookie of the year, pretty much did it all himself, including an incredible assist.

Simmons was quite content setting up his teammates throughout the first two quarters to build the 76ers' lead.

But you can't keep Simmons from the highlight reel for long as he did it all himself.

In nasty scenes, Melbourne United star Chris Goulding was helped off the court in the shadow of half-time with the 76ers Joel Embiid landing on the Aussie, who was left clutching his knee.

He was helped straight to the change rooms.

NBL owner and part owner of Melbourne United Larry Kestelman said the trip was about growing the NBL to an international audience.

He said it was a great opportunity for the Australian side.

"I thought it was amazing, you guys have a team to be super proud of, extraordinary elite athletes so loved it," Kestelman.

"But we're putting up a fight. We're fighting hard, that's what we do. I feel like this is a bit unfair, maybe if you gave us a couple of the Aussies on our side we might have a chance."

Kestelman said it was important for Australian youngsters to have a pathway to the "big stage" of the NBA.

He said Simmons was a key with the 22-year-old a big draw across the world.

"We love him, he's our pride and joy. He's a Melbourne boy. We couldn't be more proud of him. His dad actually played for this team, he played for the Melbourne Tigers, who are now Melbourne United."

It's Aussie night in the NBA pre-season opener with the 76ers having a strong Australian connection.

Philadelphia has two Australians in Simmons and promising rookie Jonah Bolden, as well as being coached by former NBL coach Brett Brown.

Jonah Bolden, right, competed for the 76ers in Summer League. Picture: Getty
Jonah Bolden, right, competed for the 76ers in Summer League. Picture: Getty

The US-born Brown was backpacking around the South Pacific in the 1980s, met his wife Anna on the Great Barrier Reef and then,  out of the blue, dropped in to the Melbourne Tigers and impressed the team's legendary coach Lindsay Gaze so much he was offered an assistant's job.

He went on to coach in the NBL and took charge of 278 games during stints with North Melbourne and the Sydney Kings, and was part of three Olympic campaigns.

"It is kind of an unusual circumstance to have this type of opportunity," Brown said about the connection between the teams earlier in the week.

The bonds continue with the Simmons family.

The star US import on the Tigers when Brown was a fledgling coach was Dave Simmons, a brutish big man from the Bronx, New York.

Simmons' son is Ben, Brown's freakish 208cm tall Melbourne-born point-forward.

A young guard back on Brown's Tigers squad was Dean Vickerman, who is United's coach.

Vickerman has fond memories of Simmons Sr, but now has to formulate a plan to stop Simmons Jr from running riot on Friday.

"His strength was ridiculous," Vickerman, recalling Simmons Sr's 205cm frame, said.

"I think Ben is really starting to build his strength as well.

"Dave was a guy who when you fouled him he could lift you off the ground he was so strong."

- with AAP


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