Ben Simmons will lead Philadelphia against Melbourne United. Picture: Getty Images
Ben Simmons will lead Philadelphia against Melbourne United. Picture: Getty Images

Simmons' 76ers v United in NBA-NBL blockbuster

MELBOURNE United has drawn the blockbuster NBA-NBL preseason opener, a mouth-watering clash with Ben Simmons' Philadelphia 76ers.

NBL champion United will open an expanded NBA-NBL preseason series, starting in Philadelphia on September 28.

In a coup for Australian basketball, most, if not all, of the NBL clubs have been invited to participate in the second annual NBA venture.

United was successful in its bid to clinch a date with Melbourne-born NBA superstar Simmons.

The NBL made a strong impression last year when United, the Sydney Kings and Brisbane Bullets pushed NBA rivals Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns to the brink in historic fixtures.

Playing against the NBA's Rookie of the Year, Ben Simmons, would be a highlight for Melbourne United. Picture: Getty Images
Playing against the NBA's Rookie of the Year, Ben Simmons, would be a highlight for Melbourne United. Picture: Getty Images

United, who was considered a rank outsider in the second of three NBA-NBL games, came within a point of upsetting Russell Westbrook's Thunder.

The Herald Sun has established NBL owner Larry Kestelman is set to unveil the full NBA-NBL fixture on Wednesday in Melbourne.

Representatives from all NBL clubs involved in the September-October roadshow will be in attendance, including Kings coach Andrew Gaze and marquee recruit Andrew Bogut.

Under the revised format, NBL clubs could play multiple games against NBA rivals in the window.

After being overlooked last year, long-time NBL powerhouse Perth Wildcats has secured an NBA invitation.

In order to get the expanded series off the ground, Kestelman had to push the start date for the domestic season back a week to allow for the hectic travel schedule.

Melbourne last year bookended its October 9 (AEST) blockbuster in Oklahoma with NBL regular-season games in Adelaide on October 5 and 14.

Chris Goulding played a major role in Melbourne United’s title win. Picture: AAP Images
Chris Goulding played a major role in Melbourne United’s title win. Picture: AAP Images

Playing three games in 10 days took a tool on United, both physically and mentally.

Sydney opened the series last year in Utah against Jazz and Boomers star Joe Ingles.

Former NBA champion Bogut's relationships with Golden State and Milwaukee Bucks could result in the Kings being pitted against either NBA heavyweight.

It appears unlikely the Los Angeles Lakers,  who parted with Bogut last year in a move that ultimately ended his 13-year NBA career, will be involved.

The Lakers unveiled their six-game preseason schedule last month.

NBA clubs can play up to eight preseason games.



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