SYDNEY: Australiaâ€™s â€œsleeping giantâ€ National Basketball League launches its 40th season next month with ambitious plans of supplanting cricket as the sports-mad countryâ€™s number one summer game. NBL owner Larry Kestelman, who is looking to cash in on the record number of Australians starring in the NBA, said there had never been a better time for the sport. â€œThe sleeping giant of Australian sport is awake and we are coming. We want to be Australiaâ€™s number one summer sport and one of the biggest sports in the country,â€ he said at the season launch on Monday. â€œWe have an opportunity to take basketball in Australia to the next level. To inspire a new generation of fans of the game. A game for all Australians.â€ Kestelman said the recent announcement that three NBL teams – Sydney Kings, Melbourne United and Brisbane Bullets – would play in next monthâ€™s NBA pre-season showed the Australian league was considered one of the best in the world.
Sydney will play Utah Jazz on October 2, Melbourne play Oklahoma City Thunder six days later and Brisbane take on Phoenix Suns on October 13 to coincide with the start of the NBL season. â€œThere are about one million Australians playing the sport, we have a record number of Australians playing in the NBA and strong national teams in the Boomers (menâ€™s) and the Opals (womenâ€™s),â€ he said. Among Australians starring in the NBA are Aron Baynes (Boston Celtics), Matt Dellavedova (Milwaukee Bucks), Dante Exum (Utah Jazz), Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz), Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs) and Ben Simmons (Philadelphia Sixers). The NBL season tips off on October 5, when Adelaide 36ers playing Melbourne United.