NBL 2017-18 schedule announced: Christmas Eve game to headline season

Scott Pryde Roar Guru

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    The Australian National Basketball League will feature more weekend games and a Christmas Eve match-up next season with the official schedule released today.

    The Adelaide 36ers will have the honour of hosting the first ever Christmas Eve game in the NBL, when they entertain the Cairns Taipans.

    SEE THE FULL NBL 2017-18 SCHEDULE

    The NBL has significantly ramped up a number of games over the holiday period, with 22 games to be played between the week before Christmas and the week after the New Year.

    Thursday, October 5 will be the opening day for season 2017-18, with the Adelaide 36ers also hosting that one, taking on rivals Melbourne United. Adelaide play a second game in the opening round, travelling to Sydney to play the Kings two days later on Saturday, October 7.

    In between, the first battle of the regional teams will take place as the Illawarra Hawks host the Cairns Taipans, while the other two games in Round 1 see the Perth Wildcats host the Brisbane Bullets and the New Zealand Breakers take on the Cairns Taipans.

    Across the 19-week season, only two games will be played on Monday this season, down from nine last season. Just two rounds don’t involve a Thursday clash, but with a majority of games between Friday and Sunday, it’s been trumpeted as a win for fans.

    NBL Chief Executive Jeremy Loeliger said more games would be played across weekends in 2017-18 to make NBL as accessible as possible to the growing fan base.

    “We’ve listened to the fans who’ve told us they want to attend and watch games on TV on weekends and this is a way of ensuring we showcase our biggest games in front of the biggest audiences,” he said.

    “We saw an 11 per cent growth in attendances last season and with more games across weekends we are confident crowds and TV audiences will only continue to grow next season.”

    In other highlights of the 2017-18 schedule, the Cairns Taipans resume their New Year’s Eve game, which they lost last season. They will host the Perth Wildcats, while the Hawks will also take on the Bullets on December 31.

    Boxing day will return to Melbourne, with United to take on the Bullets on a Tuesday.

    The first grand final re-match of the season will be in Round 2, as the Wildcats host the Hawks on Friday, October 13.

    The New Zealand Breakers have also announced they will play 10 games (up from 7) at Spark Arena (formerly Vector Arena), instead of the usual even split between that and the North Shore Events Centre. Other venue news includes the Bullets playing four games out of the Brisbane Entertainment Centre and one on the Gold Coast.

    Melbourne United may also be forced out of Hisense Arena in November for two matches, should Australia qualify for the Davis Cup final.

    Interestingly, the Bullets will also have the longest road trip of the season, coming in at six games between Round 7 and Round 10 with only four of their first 12 games at home.

    The season also includes a bye week in November to allow players to be available for Australian Boomers selection as they begin their World Cup qualification journey.

    The 2017-18 season will close on Sunday, February 18 with a triple-header as the Perth Wildcats take on the Cairns Taipans, the Sydney Kings host the New Zealand Breakers and United play the Hawks.

    A pair of rivalry games also sit in the final round, with the Bullets playing the Kings and United hosting the Wildcats.

    While there has been no official announcement, it’s expected the semi-final series will remain at three games and the grand final five.

    Scott Pryde
    Scott Pryde

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1,100 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.

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