The games will mark the first time since the 2000 Sydney Olympics that a USA national basketball team has played on Australian soil, with the two games slated for August 22 and August 24, 2019.
Basketball Australia, the NBL – league owner, Larry Kestelman, in particular – as well as the Victorian state government, had been working to secure the exhibition games, ultimately locking them in while both teams will be close to the Asian region.
The expectation is that the Boomers will suit up the majority of its NBA contingent, which could include the likes of Joe Ingles, Patty Mills, Danté Exum, Aron Baynes, and Jonah Bolden, among others. Ben Simmons has yet to commit to playing for Australia in the World Cup.
“This announcement is a landmark moment for Basketball Australia and all those fans of our great game. I believe that this event will be long remembered in Australian sporting history,” Basketball Australia CEO, Anthony Moore, said.
“I am thrilled that Basketball Australia will be hosting the USA Basketball Men’s National Team in Australia for the first time since the 2000 Sydney Olympics and my sincere thanks go to Premier Andrews and Visit Victoria for sharing in our vision.
Team USA generally doesn’t feature its biggest stars during World Cup action – the Olymics is regarded as the higher priority – but, because the 2019 event will be in China, there’s a chance that we could see them make themselves available for selection. Stephen Curry, James Harden, Klay Thompson, and Anthony Davis are likely to be among those who could represent the USA.
“I’d like to express our thanks to Basketball Australia and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews for all their help in making these exciting exhibition games a reality,” Jim Tooley, USA Basketball CEO, said. “Prior to the basketball world’s attention being focused on the 2019 FIBA World Cup, the USA-Australia exhibitions will be an opportunity for basketball fans worldwide to see two of FIBA’s top teams compete. These games will not only be important in the USA’s World Cup preparations, but they renew a special international basketball rivalry.
The capacity of Etihad Stadium is officially listed at 53,359, meaning upwards of 100,000 basketball fans, across both games, could have a chance to witness the pre-World Cup exhibition games live.
A purpose-built court is expected to be flown in, and will sit on top of the stadium’s Australian Rules Football field.
The two games will likely be the final fixtures played by either team, before they fly out to China for the World Cup, which begins on August 31. The Kyrie Irving-led USA team won the 2014 World Cup, defeating Serbia in the final.
The last time the Boomers and Team USA matched up, was the 2016 Rio Olympics, with Mike Krzyzewski’ team winning 98-88.
“The USA-Australia game at the 2016 Rio Olympics was intense, passionate and a very competitive game that came down to the final minutes,” Tooley said.
“We expect these friendlies in 2019 will again showcase international basketball at its highest level and offer sports fans a very memorable event.”
Gregg Popovich will coach the USA team for the first time at the 2019 World Cup, while Andrej Lemanis remains at the helm of the Australian team.