NBL still keen on expansion
The demise of the Gold Coast Blaze has not stopped Basketball Australia boss Kristina Keneally placing expansion high on the agenda after launching the new NBL and WNBL seasons on Thursday.
The upcoming NBL season draw had to be reissued after the Blaze’s demise in July due to financial reasons, creating an eight-team competition – one less than the WNBL.
It added another entry to the list of failed NBL franchises and ensured basketball stronghold south-east Queensland would not be represented this season.
But Keneally was hardly gun-shy by the Blaze’s messy departure, saying a “best case scenario” would be announcing a Brisbane and second Melbourne team for the 2013-14 season in the coming months.
“I want to expand. We are working to make that happen,” she told AAP.
“It would be quite optimistic to see a Brisbane team next season but it is not out of the question.
“We want to see a team in Brisbane. We know the fan base there is strong, it is a very attractive proposition.
“The second Melbourne franchise is further advanced. I anticipate we will make a decision in the next few months.”
Keneally was still disappointed with the Blaze’s departure but believed it had made it easier to usher in a Brisbane team for the first time since the Bullets’ fall in 2008.
“You never want to see a team leave the competition,” she said.
“While it was disappointing it gives us the opportunity to take a step we wanted to take and that is a team in Brisbane.
“There isn’t a prospect of (another Gold Coast team). Brisbane is the priority.”
It would be encouraging news for the Brisbane and second Melbourne bid team after they were knocked back by BA in April after they failed to meet a deadline to satisfy entry criteria.
The revised NBL draw ensured defending champions New Zealand Breakers would open the season on October 5 in a grand final re-match with the Perth Wildcats.
Keneally already had a spring in her step before the joint NBL-WNBL season launch in Melbourne on Thursday after securing a “landmark” on-line broadcast deal for the men’s league.
The former NSW Premier – who took over the BA role in August – was still buzzing over the deal in which every NBL game will be televised live across all digital platforms.
BA will produce and distribute coverage of its league games, plus men’s and women’s national teams, on newly created website NBL.TV.
It also re-negotiated its TV deal with Network Ten, which will screen one game live every Sunday next season.
Keneally said BA was still negotiating its media deal for the WNBL, with an increased presence on the ABC on the cards.
The WNBL will also open on October 5, with defending champions Dandenong wary of Lauren Jackson’s return to seven-time winner Canberra after her WNBA commitments however Bulleen will be without Opals star Liz Cambage who will be playing in China.
In another first, the NBL and WNBL launched a joint four-day pre-season tournament in Dandenong on Thursday.© AAP 2013