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 finally announced their fixtures for the 2018-19 season, with Andrew Bogut set to play his first game in the competition for the Sydney Kings against the Adelaide 36ers on Saturday, October 13.
The season will commence on Thursday, October 11 after the NBLxNBA games, which will see five Australian teams travel to the USA and take on NBA teams.
Those matches will conclude on Sunday, October 6 (AEDT), meaning there will be just a matter of days for teams to head home and prepare for the start of the NBL season. That’s in contrast to last season, when the Brisbane Bullets had to have a game moved because their match against the Phoenix Suns took place during Round 2 of the NBL competition.
The opener of the NBL season will be played out between the New Zealand Breakers and Brisbane Bullets in Auckland, while the Adelaide 36ers and Perth Wildcats will meet in a traditional rivalry on the same evening.
Seven games will be played during the opening round of competition with defending champions Melbourne United set to open their season away from home against the Illawarra Hawks.
Brisbane will play Cairns in another rivalry clash on the Saturday of Round 1, while a Sunday double-header will pit Melbourne against New Zealand and Perth against Illawarra.
Sydney fans will have to wait until Round 3 to see Bogut again, with the Kings travelling to Adelaide and New Zealand during Round 2.
The season has been trimmed to 18 rounds in total, with two breaks scheduled between November 26 and December 4 and February 18 and 26 to accommodate FIBA International games for both Australia and New Zealand as they attempt to qualify for the 2019 World Cup.
The second break will again be between the end of the regular season and the start of the semi-finals. The cutting of a round from the season will create longer rounds.
In other news from the fixture announcement, there will be an eight-game round across Australia day, starting on Wednesday January 23 and ending on Monday, January 28. There will also be two games played on New Years Eve as the Taipans play the Wildcats and Illawarra host Brisbane.
The open-air game will make its return to Hisense Arena, as Melbourne host Adelaide in a grand final re-match on Boxing Day, while Bogut and the Kings will play a Melbourne Cup Eve match at Hisense.
While some venues are yet to be confirmed, it has been announced the New Zealand Breakers will play four regional games around New Zealand during the season, while also permanently shifting all their home games in Auckland to the Spark Arena, moving away from the North Shore Events Centre.
Perth will again lose use of the Perth Arena during the Hopman Cup, being sent on a run of five straight away games throughout the end of December and early January, while Melbourne will only take one game away from Hisense Arena this year, meaning they play just one of four at home over the last three weeks of January.
Broadcast details are yet to be confirmed, however, it’s thought Fox Sports will again broadcast the entirety of the season, with the league working on ensuring there is some free-to-air presence after SBS played two matches live each week last year.
Start times for matches are also yet to be confirmed by the league.