Ben Simmons is back in training with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Ben Simmons is back in training with the Philadelphia 76ers.

’He belongs’: Simmons’ praise for Aussie NBA prospect

BEN Simmons says fellow Australian Jonah Bolden has proven he "belongs" in the NBA with strong performances during Philadelphia's training camp.

Ahead of Bolden's first pre-season appearance in a Sixers uniform against Melbourne United on Saturday, Simmons gave the Sydney-raised forward the golden seal of approval.

"He (Jonah) has been playing well and doing everything on the court," Simmons said.

"He is also a great person and teammate.

"I watched him a lot back in high school and he has the same game but he has just gotten a lot better, which is amazing.

"He is great, he belongs here.

"For our dads to have competed and for us to play together is kind of weird also with Brett (Brown) having coached both our dads.

"I think Jonah knows what to expect, but probably before the game I'll say some words to him but he is going to be fine."

76ers draftee Jonah Bolden trains with NBL champions Melbourne United. Picture Yuri Kouzmin
76ers draftee Jonah Bolden trains with NBL champions Melbourne United. Picture Yuri Kouzmin

Simmons is expecting a tough clash against a strong Melbourne outfit that went within one basket of beating a star-studded Oklahoma City in last year's inaugural NBL versus NBA series.

He previously declared United could beat the Sixers and he hasn't changed his mind.

"They've got some great players and they play the game the right way," he said.

"That is one thing about Australian teams; they play the game the right way.

"It is going to be a good test for us.

"But we are going to take them seriously. They are a good team and well coached, so it is going to be a lot of fun."

Bolden is equally excited to take on a Melbourne side he trained with in September while he was holidaying in Australia.

Bolden trained with the NBL champions while in Melbourne. Picture Yuri Kouzmin
Bolden trained with the NBL champions while in Melbourne. Picture Yuri Kouzmin

He also urged the United players to use Saturday's trial against the Sixers as a chance to follow in his footsteps and push for the NBA.

"If the Melbourne guys want to come over here and impress, I think that should be the goal," Bolden said.

"If it was the other way around I'd want to do exactly the same thing.

"I think last year was a prime example of how competitive Melbourne can be when they played the Thunder.

"It was a good showing, so they should all look to take any chance they get - anything is possible."

From his experience training at Melbourne, Bolden knows the Sixers can't take Melbourne lightly.

"They are a great bunch of guys and a good team," he said.

"This is the biggest stage in the best league in the world, so everyone can get caught sleeping and there is no doubt in my mind that Melbourne is going to come out looking to beat us.

"Who wouldn't? If you didn't that would be somewhat disrespectful to us."

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

Bolden also can't wait to team up with Simmons for the first time in a Sixers singlet.

He said it was special for them to play in the same team after their fathers - Dave and Bruce - played together and against each other in the NBL.

"I don't see that story eroding anytime soon," he said.

"And it is good because it is rare to come from Australia with both parents having played in the league out there and then having sons come over.

"It is a story and an inspiration for guys back home, whether they have parents in the league or not, it is knowing they can get to where we are.

"Ben and I have similar backgrounds. He came over earlier than me and was drafted straight out of college.

"I had to take the scenic route, but Ben has always been the alpha male wherever he has played in high school, college and now in the NBA."

Bolden revealed he has been mostly training at the stretch four forward position during training camp.

"It is still early stages and they are throwing a lot at us but that is to be expected from a team that wants to win a championship," he said.

"There are no shortcuts. You have to get with it or there is no other option.

"You've just got to embrace it."


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