BASKETBALL'S COMEBACK CONTINUES WITH NBL CLUBS TO FACE OFF AGAINST CHINA'S NATIONAL TEAM
23 June 2017, Written by Ben Hall
THE RESURGENCE of Australia's National Basketball League (NBL) continues with China's national team to play two high profile games in Melbourne and the Gold Coast next month.
China will play NBL clubs Melbourne United and the Brisbane Bullets on July 16 and 18 respectively, as something of a preview to the start of the NBL 2017-18 season in October.
NBL Chief Executive Jeremy Loeliger says the games were a great opportunity to showcase basketball between two of the leading nations in the region.
"We are very excited to be hosting China in Australia to play against two of our biggest NBL clubs in Melbourne United and the Brisbane Bullets," he said.
"We have a strong relationship with the Chinese Basketball Association led by its President Yao Ming and this is an opportunity to strengthen our ties with one of the biggest basketball markets in world.
"Basketball is experiencing a huge boom in both countries and this is fantastic opportunity for everyone including Chinese Australians who may not have seen the NBL before to come along and enjoy top class basketball."
This boom in Australia is more of a resurgence that's been happening over the past two years. Through the 1990's and early 2000's, the NBL was hugely popular but hit a turbulent period in 2008 and 2009 in which teams from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Singapore all folded because of financial difficulties.
In 2013, the NBL de-merged from Basketball Australia. Shortly after Larry Kestelman, property developer and the co-founder of Dodo, which sold for $230 million the same year, bought the league.
Since then, crowd numbers, TV viewers, website visits and app downloads have all increased and the visit by China is something of a validation for basketball's comeback.
"We are particularly excited to be able to host a game in Melbourne but also on the Gold Coast which will stage the Commonwealth Games next year," Loeliger says.
"It will be a great opportunity for the Bullets to play in front of fans at the Gold Coast at the new Carrara Stadium."
The games will be streamed live on NBL TV in Australia and to tens of millions of fans in China via Sina and Youku.
Melbourne United will play China at Margaret Court Arena on Sunday July 16 starting at 3pm.
The Brisbane Bullets will play China at Carrara on Tuesday July 18 starting at 7pm.
The games will follow next month's tour of China by the NBL All-Australian team which will play three matches against the Chinese national team starting in Beijing on July 5.
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Author: Ben Hall