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View From Down Under: Aussie NBA rookie favorite Ben Simmons tipped to have better of Lakers rival

Australia’s burgeoning NBA star Ben Simmons will meet one of his closest challengers for this year’s Rookie of the Year Award when the Philadelphia 76ers take on the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

Point guard Simmons, who has been compared to NBA great Michael Jordan, has made a powerful start to the season averaging 18.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists so far.

The No. 1 draft pick in 2016 recovered from a bout of the flu to score 20 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and six steals in a shocking 115-101 loss to the Phoenix Suns this week.

Simmons’ biggest rival for the NBA rookie honors, Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, is averaging 8.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists.

The 76ers downed the Lakers 115-109 when they last met at Los Angeles in November, with Simmons having the better of Ball.

Sportsbet is tipping a similar result when the two teams meet in Philadelphia this week, with $1.64 (-156) for the 76ers and $2.24 (+124) for the Lakers.

The 76ers are paying a tempting $101 (+10,000) to win the NBA title this season, with the Lakers on $426 (+42,500).

As for Simmons, the Melbourne-born phenom is virtually unbackable at $1.08 (-1250) to take the NBA rookie award, with Ball on $26 (+2500).

Simmons is on just $1.28 (-357) to make the all-star team in his first season, with $21 (+2000) on offer for him to finish in double figures for points, rebounds and assists.

In the A-League, Sydney FC is more than a game ahead of the Newcastle Jets and is tipped to extend that lead this weekend.

Sydney FC repeated its FFA Cup feat last week by beating Adelaide United 1-0 and is the $2 (+100) favorite to make it eight wins from 10 games when it travels to the Western Sydney Wanderers ($3.50 or +250) on Saturday.

The Perth Glory are on $2.37 (+137) to defeat Newcastle at home, with $2.80 (+180) for a Jets win.

Melbourne City can overtake the Jets as Sydney’s nearest challenger when they host the Central Coast Mariners on Sunday.

City, who downed the Jets 2-1 last week, are paying just $1.80 (-125) for a win against $4.20 (+320) for a loss.

Odds have yet to be set in the third Ashes test after Australia took a 2-0 series lead with a decisive 102-run win over England in Adelaide on Wednesday.

And while the Aussies must wait until the third test starting December 14 to press home their advantage, cricket fans will be watching the opening of the Women’s Big Bash League Twenty20 tournament this weekend.

The popular tournament kicks off Saturday with the Melbourne Renegades and Sydney Thunder inseparable on $1.88 (-114), while the Sydney Sixers are $1.70 (-143) favorites when they kick off their title defence that night against the Melbourne Stars ($2.15 or +115).