Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) has hailed a landmark deal that will see three of its teams travel to take part in the preseason of North American league the NBA.
The Sydney Kings, Melbourne United and Brisbane Bullets will take part in the 2017 NBA preseason in October, marking the first time that NBL teams will travel to the US to play against NBA teams.
The Kings will visit the Utah Jazz, featuring Australians Joe Ingles and Danté Exum, on October 2 at Vivint Smart Home Arena, followed by Melbourne United meeting the Oklahoma City Thunder on October 8 at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Bullets will visit the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on October 13.
NBL executive chairman and owner, Larry Kestelman, said: “This is a huge moment for Australian basketball. For the NBL to be able to play some of the biggest teams in the world shows how far our league has come.
“For our teams to be chosen to come and play in the NBA preseason is a great endorsement of the NBL and Australian basketball. We currently have a number of Australians playing in the NBA, strong national teams in the Boomers and Opals, record participation levels and a flourishing national competition. This opportunity will only build more excitement ahead of the NBL season starting on October 5.”
NBA Asia managing director Scott Levy added: “Australia has proven to be a basketball powerhouse with a growing number of its players making their mark in the NBA and on the global stage. Australia remains one of our largest international markets for merchandise sales and NBA League Pass, and these games mark a milestone moment for our two leagues.”
There were a record-tying eight Australian players on 2016-17 opening night NBA rosters, including Ingles and Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs, both of whom previously played in the NBL.