• AFP-JIJI

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Nine Australian NBA stars have partnered with the league and the National Basketball Players Association Foundation to donate $750,000 towards relief and recovery efforts for Australia’s bush fire disaster, the NBA said Tuesday.

“We are heartbroken over the devastation these fires are causing all across our homeland,” the players said in a joint statement.

“Our thoughts are with our families, friends and all of the people of Australia. We hope you feel our love and support and know that we will continue to bring awareness to this crisis globally and provide assistance in any way we can.”

The players contributing to the fund include Philadelphia 76ers duo Ben Simmons and Jonah Bolden and Phoenix Suns ace Aron Baynes.

San Antonio’s Patty Mills, Ryan Broekhoff (Dallas Mavericks), Matthew Dellavedova and Dante Exum (Cleveland Cavaliers), Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz) and Thon Maker (Detroit Pistons) also contributed.

A statement said the funds would help aid immediate relief efforts as well as long-term rebuilding projects.

“Our players have a deep connection to the places where they grew up and have always responded with generosity and compassion in the aftermath of disasters,” NBPA Foundation executive director Sherrie Deans said.

“The Foundation’s board is committed to extending our long-standing support of players’ financial contributions in response to disasters through this joint effort.”

Twenty-five people have died since the start of the disaster in September, more than 1,800 homes have been destroyed, and some 8 million hectares (80,000 square km) have burned, an area the size of Ireland or South Carolina.

Smoke from the giant infernos has been spotted more than 12,000 km away in Chile and Argentina, weather authorities in the South American countries have said.

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