Australia’s NBL in talks to add Chinese team

Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) is planning to add a team in China which would be based on a part-time basis in the city of Gold Coast in Queensland.

NBL executive director Larry Kestelman told the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper that the league is seeking approval from the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and the International Basketball Federation (Fiba) for the new team, with a view to it starting play within two years.

The new club would comprise predominantly of Chinese free agents playing with the permission of the CBA, and is envisioned to stage games in a number of major Chinese cities. The Bulletin said the franchise would be based in the Gold Coast when in Australia and also play some games there.

“We’re in the hands of the CBA and we have to always respect Fiba, and the ultimate decision will be with them and if they allow it,” Kestelman said. “But we have support from Basketball Australia to have this happen as long as they both support it.

“CBA have verbally supported the idea and they can see the benefits of a team, so now it is a matter of looking at where the process lies and what’s involved. We’re hopeful of having that for the following season (2017-18).”

Kestelman stated there is high-level interest in the Gold Coast for the NBL’s proposal, adding: “There’s a huge influx of ­interest from China on the Gold Coast, and a lot of property ­development and tourism happening with direct flights from all parts of China.”

The Gold Coast has been without an NBL franchise since 2012 following the demise of two previous teams. The Rollers were formed in 1990 and played until 1996 while the Blaze lasted from 2007 to 2012.