Basketball Australia (BA) was very proud to announce this week that Australia’s largest recreational vehicle company Jayco has signed on as naming rights sponsor and number 1 supporter of the Opals for the next three years. This is a significant boost for the Opals in the lead up to next year's FIBA World Championship for Women and the 2012 London Olympic Games. It also reinforces the confidence that the corporate community has in basketball and the reforms on the back of recent sponsorship deals completed for the Australian Boomers and NBL. This is great news for basketball and it is fantastic that such an iconic Australian brand has extended its support of basketball in Australia. Jayco will continue to support the Dandenong Rangers WNBL Team as it has for the past 13 seasons.
The National Basketball League is in full swing and there has been no shortage of thrilling games and memorable performances. The BA initiative to change the game to the 40 minute format has resulted in closer and more intense encounters to the benefit of the fans. We’ve seen exciting new imports like Kevin Lisch (Perth) and John Gilchrist (Adelaide) make game winning shots in the closing seconds of matches and the crowds at matches have been treated to some fantastic basketball. The Wollongong Hawks have proven to be the unlikely early pacesetters, which is a fitting reward for the Illawarra community who have supported them so well in recent times.
We’ve seen the introduction of a number of new innovations off the court that have also helped drive interest in the NBL. A number of clubs are live streaming vision of their home games which, coupled with the vastly increased Fox Sports coverage, gives NBL fans more chance than ever to watch their team play live. The league is also trialing an initiative to drive more news coverage. BA is trialing a company called Fuzzy TV, who film, edit and post downloadable video highlights of games on the web to allow broadcast media around the country to grab vision and audio clips. This initiative is building our national media exposure to increase awareness and grow our audiences.
BA also recently announced the outcome of its review into the season timing for both the NBL and Women’s National Basketball League. The decision to maintain the summer window for the sport (September – March) is the right one as we look to maximise the commercial opportunities for basketball. Importantly, it was also greeted enthusiastically by the fans. Over 80 percent of those who voted on the NBL website poll backed the retention of the summer season.
In the WNBL only two teams remain undefeated, with the Bulleen Boomers leading the way with a 5-0 win-loss record and Townsville Fire sitting just behind on 3-0. Beijing Olympians Kristi Harrower and Suzy Batkovic-Brown lead the league in scoring. In further good news for the WNBL Bendigo recently announced Harrower has signed a two year deal to remain with the Spirit as a player, and take on a new challenge as the club’s general manager.
The WNBL named Round 4 the Pink Ribbon Round to raise awareness for the Cancer Council’s Pink Ribbon day. Each club in the WNBL was involved in the initiative to raise awareness and funds for the fight against breast cancer. It is a great cause and your support through attendance during this round was greatly appreciated with the proceeds going to the Cancer Council.
The Australian Men’s Wheelchair Basketball team, the Rollers, have qualified for the 2010
IWBF World Championship after decimating the competition at the IWBF Asia-Oceania Championship in Dandenong last week. The Rollers claimed gold at the event by overpowering Japan 68-51 in the decider and were undefeated in the seven games of the tournament.
The Australian Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team, the Gliders, had already qualified for the world titles. The Gliders played a four game series against Japan during the Asia Oceania Championship. The Gliders led the series 2-0 before Japan took the third game 59 50. The Gliders fought back to win the series 3-1 with a 59-48 victory.
The NBA gets underway this week with the highest number of Australian players for a few years with four Boomers contracted in the league. Boomers centre Dave Andersen is lining up to make his league debut for the Houston Rockets. Nathan Jawai was recently traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves and is looking forward to the increased opportunities for court time. 2005 number one draft pick Andrew Bogut and his Milwaukee Bucks get underway on Saturday.
Patrick Mills beat out two NBA veterans to secure the fifteenth and final spot on the Portland Trailblazers roster for the 2009/10 NBA season and was signed to a two-year guaranteed contract. Mills is still recovering from a broken foot but we hope to see him on the court soon.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the states and associations for their continued support of the census. The collation of accurate and complete data on basketball is a pivotal part of influencing Government and corporate investment in our sport. I encourage those who have not yet completed their returns to work closely with their respective state body to complete this important task.
It has been another very busy month for basketball in Australia and there are no signs of a decrease in tempo next month. Get behind your respective NBL and WNBL teams by attending the games in your area. It is a great spectacle which needs your support.