Fur­ther push into Asia high on agenda at NBA meet

Full Court Press

Townsville Bulletin - - Basketball - ANTONY STE­WART

A FUR­THER push into Asia seems in­evitable, but mak­ing sure it is done prop­erly when it hap­pens was a high pri­or­ity dis­cus­sion at the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball League’s chief ex­ec­u­tives meet­ing ear­lier this week.

At the quar­terly con­fer­ence, the league’s 12 CEOs met at Syd­ney’s Crown Plaza at Dar­ling Har­bour to dis­cuss var­i­ous is­sues con­cern­ing the NBL.

Spon­sor­ship, fan sup­port, player de­vel­op­ment and the fu­ture di­rec­tion of the pro­fes­sional side of the sport, in­clud­ing travel, ac­com­mo­da­tion and even team cloth­ing were talked over dur­ing the two days. But with Sin­ga­pore’s in­clu­sion in the NBL this sea­son, dis­cus­sion also fo­cused on the po­ten­tial of fur­ther Asian-based teams be­ing in­cluded in an ex­panded com­pe­ti­tion in the fu­ture.

While there are no set dates at this stage, and it may in­deed be many years away, the league’s bosses have long pro­fessed an in­ter­est in mov­ing into Asia, so fur­ther ex­pan­sion is cer­tainly not out of the ques­tion.

How­ever, if or when it does oc­cur, Townsville Croc­o­diles chief ex­ec­u­tive Ian Smythe said club CEOs agreed mis­takes made upon the Slingers’ad­di­tion to the NBL must be learnt from.

Af­ter the demise of the Hunter fran­chise dur­ing the past off-sea­son, a Sin­ga­pore own­er­ship group, headed by Bob Turner, bought out the li­cence and of­fi­cially in­tro­duced the Slingers to the league in March.

It left the or­gan­is­ers with less than six months to put to­gether a team, gain fi­nan­cial sup­port and cre­ate com­mu­nity aware­ness about the club.

As a re­sult the Slingers have had a slow start to their ex­is­tence on most fronts and while the gen­eral con­sen­sus around the league is that the club’s po­ten­tial is lim­it­less, it is also ac­cepted that fur­ther prepa­ra­tion time would have been greatly ben­e­fi­cial.

‘‘I think we put a lot of pres­sure on the fran­chise owner and a lot of pres­sure on get­ting the whole thing up and run­ning,’’ Smythe said.

‘‘Eigh­teen months i s about the min­i­mum time that you re­ally need to es­tab­lish your­self in a new cen­tre like Sin­ga­pore, to get it up and run­ning.

‘‘You need to de­velop re­la­tion­ships with the me­dia, spon­sors, the com­mu­nity and we didn’t give Sin­ga­pore enough time, so we won’t make that same mis­take again and put the pres­sure on them.

‘‘What we’ll do is we’ll make sure that if we do make a de­ci­sion about an­other team that we will give them suf­fi­cient time to es­tab­lish a re­la­tion­ship that we all had the ben­e­fit of.’’

Work­ing on a a cen­tralised model of the NBL, thus pro­mot­ing a more pro­fes­sional ap­pear­ance com­pa­ra­ble to the NRL, AFL and A-League, was also dis­cussed.

Smythe said that meant each home court po­ten­tially tak­ing on a sim­i­lar ap­pear­ance and even team uni­forms bear­ing a re­sem­blance to one an­other, so that each could in­stantly be as­so­ci­ated with the NBL.

How­ever he said such pro­pos­als could be a num­ber of sea­sons away be­fore com­ing to fruition.

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