Ben Who? Sixers Wing Turns Back Kevin Durant & Team USA

Matisse Thybulle Kevin Durant

Getty Matisse Thybulle of the Aussie Boomers defends Kevin Durant of USA Basketball.

Ben Simmons’ will-he-or-won’t-he saga with the Australian national basketball program has become something of a biannual tradition for the Philadelphia 76ers star. In the Land Down Under, that push-and-pull dynamic has gotten especially heated during Olympic years thanks to the Boomers’ inability to reach the podium in 14 tries.

Turns out, the Aussies may have been waiting on the wrong Sixers baller to take them to the next level.

In his maiden voyage with the Boomers, another Philly favorite — NBA All-Defensive Team pick Matisse Thybulle — is making a big impact for his home country.

After a strong debut in Australia’s exhibition victory over Argentina, Thybulle helped his crew reach an even higher mark in their second friendly on Monday night, quite literally rejecting Kevin Durant and Team USA in a 91-83 win.

Thybulle and Co. have been so good, in fact, that Simmons morphed from being a nation’s lost hope to becoming the latest Twitter punchline (again).

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Thybulle Comes Through Again

Australia hands USA men's basketball second straight loss in as many exhibitions | NBC SportsIn the second pre-Olympic exhibition in Las Vegas, the U.S. men's basketball team suffers its second straight loss in three days, a 91-83 defeat against Australia. #NBCSports #Olympics #TokyoOlympics » Subscribe to NBC Sports: » Watch Live Sports on NBC Sports Group serves sports fans 24/7 with premier live events, insightful studio…2021-07-13T02:58:56Z

As was often the case with the Sixers during the 2020-21 NBA season, Thybulle didn’t get the most buckets, clean the glass like a maniac or drop dimes in stacks on Monday. Much of what he did wasn’t even that flashy to look at.

What he did do, though, was make contributions big and small in every facet of the game to weave a cornucopia of winning plays. In doing so, he filled up the box score in his own unique way, racking up 12 points (with two triples), three assists, three steals, three blocks and two rebounds.

And he did manage some highlight plays along the way, none better than his rejection of Durant on a patented fadeaway attempt:

It was a play that perfectly summed up the contest for USA Basketball (0-2 in friendly play). Of course, Gregg Popovich’s team is scuffling at the moment, dropping back-to-back games and lagging far behind most of the field in terms of practice time and familiarity.

Still, the fact that they have been outplayed so thoroughly in consecutive contests should be concerning for them.

On the flip side, Australia’s ability to hang on and survive against Argentina and then dominate the second half against an American side loaded with NBA superstars speaks volumes about the Boomers as a legitimate medal threat. And Thybulle has been a major part of the evolution.

Ben Getting Dunked on by Twitter

Ever since his postseason free-throw debacle and Philly’s early elimination, Simmons’ name has been dragged through the mud ad nauseam on social media. With Thybulle and the Aussies taking off, though, Simmons’ detractors have been reinvigorated.

Good thing Ben Simmons didn’t play for Australia – they would have lost by 47,” tweeted one fan.

Haha, Ben Simmons thought he’d be missed by team Australia,” posted another.

“Thank god he passed on representing Australia to watch some tennis,” commented a third tweeter, in reference to Simmons’ recent Wimbledon sighting.


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