Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Josh Giddey has leaned heavily on fellow Australian Joe Ingles over the years and the sixth overall pick will soon have the opportunity to face his mentor on the court.
Giddey on Sunday revealed that Ingles would often check in with him while he played with the Adelaide 36ers last season in the National Basketball League. Ingles would even stay up late to watch Giddey play and give him feedback on how he performed.
The two had the opportunity to spend some time together this summer with Australia in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics. Giddey did not make the final 12-man roster but played with the Boomers in some exhibition games in Las Vegas before the team departed for Tokyo.
As fate would have it, Oklahoma City opens up the regular season on the road Wednesday versus Ingles and the Utah Jazz. The contest will have some special meaning for Giddey as his first NBA game, and first matchup against Ingles.
It’s going to be really cool. Joe has been someone I’ve looked up to for a lot of my junior career. He is, obviously, an Australian legend, has had a very good NBA career. He has been a big help for me over the last 18 months.
He was one of the first guys to reach out to me when I first signed my contract in Adelaide. We’ve spoke a lot through the years. He was staying up until three in the morning to watch my games and giving me feedback to help me out.
Giddey admitted that he is excited to get the season started and begin playing in games that count. The team knows it will have a tough challenge against the Jazz but the players have had a positive outlook after wrapping up the preseason.
The chance to play an idol in Igles will certainly be a fun moment for Giddey on Wednesday. Bragging rights will no doubt be on the line between the two players so it will be worth watching to see how it all unfolds.