SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) - The Utah Jazz play their preseason opener Monday night against the Sydney Kings, and Joe Ingles and Dante Exum couldn't be more excited.
The two Australian Jazz players have had a bit of a homecoming without having to leave Salt Lake City.
"It's going to be great," Ingles said. "Everyone back home is going to be watching and hopefully it's a good game. We're excited to get out there and play. For me personally, to play against some boys that I've kind of grown up with will be great."
"It's a big game, not just for the Kings, but for Australian basketball," added Exum. "Just to show the growth and where basketball is starting to head in Australia. I think it gives them an opportunity to showcase what they've been doing."
Exum is best friends with former Kings forward and former St. Mary's star Dane Pineau, while Ingles and Kings forward Brad Newley have known each other since they were kids. Last night, they got to catch up on old times.
"Yeah, it was my wife's idea to have him over, not mine," Ingles joked. "And he didn't even bring anything."
"He's not really hiding anything," said Newley when asked about Ingles personality. "He's pretty laid back. He speaks his mind and he goes about his business. I like the nickname Slo Mo Joe that you guys have given him. That's impressive."
Exum is hoping to embarrass his friend just a little bit tomorrow night.
"I hope that Dane is under the basket and I can just go downhill and slam on him," he said. "I've already talked to him about it, so he's going to jump out of the way. He already told me."
So who is more popular in Australia, Joe Ingles or Dante Exum?
"Me," deadpanned Newley. "No, they're both household names now. I think Utah all of a sudden is becoming one of Australia's teams."
Ingles and Exum are two of eight Aussies currently in the NBA, and they hope there will be many more to follow.
"All of us guys who play in the NBA are proud to be Australian, and try to represent our country as well as we can every night we go out there," Ingles said. "Hopefully those kinds can look up to some of us guys and know that they can get here."
The Jazz and Sydney Kings tip off at 7:00 Monday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
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