Ball hype prompts sell­out

Fans flock­ing to check out NBA draft-bound LaMelo

Mercury (Hobart) - - SPORT - SIMEON THOMAS-WILSON

THE ever-grow­ing hype around pro­jected No.1 2020 NBA Draft prospect LaMelo Ball is set to re­sult in a mas­sive crowd at the Ade­laide Entertainm­ent Cen­tre when the Ade­laide 36ers host the teenage phe­nom later this month.

The Illawarra Hawks’ star be­came the first NBL player in the 40-minute era to record two triple-dou­bles in a row with a 32-point, 11-re­bound and 13-as­sist ef­fort against the Cairns Taipans and 25-point, 12-re­bound and 10-as­sist game against the New Zealand Break­ers.

This has pro­pelled the 18year-old Ball, who chose the NBL through its Next Stars pro­gram in­stead of fol­low­ing the con­ven­tional route of col­lege to get to the NBA, as the pro­jected num­ber one pick in the lat­est ESPN 2020 mock draft.

Ade­laide 36ers chief ex­ec­u­tive Ben Kave­nagh said this had re­sulted in “un­prece­dented ticket sales” for the De­cem­ber 20 clash at the Entertainm­ent Cen­tre against the Hawks.

“The LaMelo Ball fac­tor is well and truly real,” he told News Corp.

“We no­ticed a sig­nif­i­cant spike in tick­ets sales af­ter LaMelo’s triple dou­ble, with sales re­main­ing strong ever since. For our up­com­ing home game against the Hawks, we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing un­prece­dented ticket sales. De­spite us be­ing 16 days out from the game, we’ve al­most sold 6500 tick­ets.”

Af­ter their move to the Entertainm­ent Cen­tre the Six­ers broke the record for the big­gest NBL crowd in Ade­laide when 8252 peo­ple watched them against the Syd­ney Kings on Novem­ber 2.

Kave­nagh said Ball’s ap­pear­ance in Ade­laide was likely to re­sult in an­other big turnout.

“I urge fans to get their tick­ets quickly, as we’re def­i­nitely on track for a sell­out,” he said.

“In ad­di­tion to bas­ket­ball fans, the game is prov­ing ex­tremely pop­u­lar with cor­po­rates, with our celebrity row seats al­ready sold and al­most all cor­po­rate boxes sold.”

Ball and the Hawks were in­volved in the largest ever NBL crowd last month when they played the Syd­ney Kings in

Syd­ney, watched by 17,514. Fel­low NBL Next Stars player RJ Hamp­ton of the Break­ers, who the 36ers nearly had, is pro­jected to be the fifth over­all se­lec­tion in the 2020 NBA draft by ESPN.

Af­ter his side de­feated the Break­ers last month, Six­ers coach Joey Wright said Ball and Hamp­ton had re­sulted in peo­ple com­ing out to Aus­tralian bas­ket­ball just to see them — which he said had never re­ally oc­curred in the game.

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