Last month, an agreement between Basketball Australia, Foxtel and the ABC ensured all 60 games of the WNBL season would be shown live across the country – and Bec Cole of the Southside Flyers was an unexpected beneficiary.
The NBL have announced an extended pre-season schedule against NBA teams on Wednesday morning, with five teams, including defending champions Melbourne United and Andrew Bogut’s Sydney Kings, set to feature in a tour of the USA.
While relations have been growing between the two leagues on either side of the Pacific, it took an unprecedented step forward with last year’s three games more than doubled.
All three NBL teams who travelled to the States last year – Melbourne United, the Sydney Kings and Brisbane Bullets – lost, but were competitive in doing so, with United taking the Oklahoma City Thunder to the wire and falling by just a single point.
This year’s series will get underway on September 29 (AEST) with Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers hosting United, who were NBL champions in the most recent season.
The Perth Wildcats, who missed out on last year’s tour will then take on Joe Ingles, Dante Exum and the Utah Jazz the following day. The Jazz will have a second game as well when the host the Adelaide 36ers as part of a triple-header on Saturday October 6 (AEST).
The other two games in that double-header will see Melbourne play their second game in the States against Toronto, while Perth do the same against Denver.
Andrew Bogut’s highly anticipated first outing in a Sydney Kings uniform will see the 2018-19 NBL favourites travel to Hawaii for a match with the Los Angeles Clippers. The slightly shorter travelling distance and longer turnaround to the start of the season when they get back should see the Kings able to avoid the slow start to the NBL season they suffered last time around.
The other game will see the New Zealand Breakers take on the Phoenix Suns.
NBL owner Larry Kestleman said the extended series of matches continued to show the NBL’s status as the second best league in the world.
“The increased number of games symbolizes the continued strength of the NBL-NBA partnership and the growth of our league in Australia and New Zealand. These initiatives continue to position the NBL as the second best league and entertainment product in the world outside the NBA,” he said.
The extended pre-season line-up of matches means the start of the NBL season is expected to be pushed back to the weekend of October 13, with record crowds across the league expected due to the arrival of Bogut and continued increase in popularity of the league.
|Date (Aus)||NBA club||NBL club||Venue|
|Sat Sep 29||Philadelphia 76ers||Melbourne United||Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia|
|Sun Sep 30||Utah Jazz||Perth Wildcats||Vivint Smart Homes Arena, Utah|
|Mon Oct 1||Los Angeles Clippers||Sydney Kings||Stan Sherrif Center, Hawaii|
|Thu Oct 4||Phoenix Suns||New Zealand Breakers||Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix|
|Sat Oct 6||Denver Nuggets||Perth Wildcats||Pepsi Center, Denver|
|Sat Oct 6||Toronto Raptors||Melbourne United||Scotiabank Arena, Toronto|
|Sat Oct 6||Utah Jazz||Adelaide 36ers||Vivint Smart Homes Arena, Utah|