Australian clubs to play pre-season games in USA
NBA clubs will play pre-season games in the United States against three Australian teams in October, the NBA and Australia’s National Basketball League announced Monday. The Brisbane Bullets, Melbourne United and Sydney Kings will mark the first NBL clubs to travel to North America to face NBA teams.
“This is another big leap forward for the NBL and Australian basketball,” said Kings coach Andrew Gaze, a former NBA player and five-time Olympian. “As somebody who played in the NBA I know how much this opportunity means. The NBL has always been very attractive for NBA players and is a pathway to the NBA.”
The Sydney Kings will visit the Utah Jazz, whose roster includes Aussies Joe Ingles and Dante Exum, on October 2. “This is massive for Australian basketball and an exciting opportunity for NBA and NBL players to compete together on the same floor,” Jazz swingman Ingles said.
“As an Aussie who began my career in the NBL and now entering my fourth season with Utah, I am very proud of the growth of the game in my home country.” Melbourne United will visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on October 8 and the Brisbane Bullets will visit the Phoenix Suns on October 13.
“We are proud to help continue the advancement of the game through these competitions,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. A record-matching eight Australian players were on NBA openingnight rosters last season, including former NBL players Ingles and Patty Mills, a guard for the San Antonio Spurs.
The NBL has eight teams, seven in Australia and one in New Zealand, and will celebrate its’ 40th season with the 2017-18 campaign that launches in October. “This is a huge moment for Australian basketball,” said NBL executive chairman Larry Kestelman. “For the NBL to be able to play some of the biggest teams in the world shows how far our league has come.” — AFP