Australia’s dreams of taking the gold medal at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup are over after they were defeated by Spain in a double-overtime semi-final.
Yes, Aussie basketball is back this week. Now I realise many of you have committed to the NBA and that’s about all the round ball you want. I don’t blame you: 24-hour news updates on Dwight Howard’s mood is enough for anyone!
Nonetheless, I’ve come up with five reasons to watch our local league too:
1. Super Sundays
If, one upcoming Sunday afternoon, you find yourself down about footy season being over, and because Monday morning looms, why not grab a bag of chips, flick on Channel 10 and watch some big blokes hit an iron hoop instead of each other.
It’ll be a refreshing change.
The NBL is on Channel 10, One HD and Sky NZ and don’t forget live streaming on NBL TV.
2. Big names with big games
There’s a slew of new talent in the league, some of whom will dazzle with dunks, others will zip about with quick feet, while a few will simply surprise.
For a start, high-flying James Ennis arrives to the Perth Wildcats via the NBA draft.
The Miami Heat secured the athletic swingman before loaning him to the ‘Cats, which is about all you need to know: the guy will one day play alongside LeBron James.
Then there’s Rotnei Clarke, one of American college basketball’s best scoring point guards this year who trialled with a number of NBA teams. Lucky for us, he’ll spearhead the Wollongong Hawks offence before trying for the NBA again.
The Melbourne Tigers also brought back Ayinde Ubaka after recently losing one of their imports to injury.
An NBL veteran, the man affectionately known as ‘Chewy’ also has one of the best name’s in the pro basketball galaxy.
3. Prodigal sons
In a sign the league is returning to form, a couple of big men have come back to Australia. The Sydney Kings added local boy AJ Ogilvy to their line-up, who manned the middle for Vanderbilt University in Nashville for several years.
He brings much-needed inside presence and strength to the Kings and should be fired up by the home crowd.
Meanwhile, veteran Boomer Mark Worthington also returns to the league as part of the Melbourne Tigers frontcourt.
He’s big, versatile and has the type of experience that’ll provide an edge in close games.
4. ‘Bring it’ catch-cry
The new NBL launched officially with the tag line ‘Bring It’, which focuses on re-engaging fans, according to the league.
The NBL says its players are committed to bringing it on the court and that now it’s up to fans to bring it each and every night by becoming club members.
Fair enough. But I still don’t know what we’re being asked to bring – our game faces? War cries? Ring Dings and Pepsi? Let’s just all agree to bring at least one thing, it’s good manners.
5. The new boss
You heard correctly – Fraser Neill is the new chief of the NBL after years as an executive in rugby. This matters for a couple of reasons: he is new to basketball which gifts the league a fresh viewpoint; and he remembers the glory days of the competition.
Anyone who recalls the fast-breaking, free-wheeling nineties version of NBL knows just how good the league could be again.