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Biggest day in NBL history


IT may not be the biggest day in NBA history but the news today NBL clubs would leapfrog from three preseason games last year to seven against NBA opponents is massive for Australian basketball's credibility.

Then again, given this is the most games NBA clubs will play against teams from an international league in a single preseason, you actually can tick the box this also is a historic day for The Show.

It's just not quite as meaningful as it is for us.

In case you've been in meetings, conferences, binge watching a TV series, in surgery or lazing on an exotic beach somewhere all day today, the NBL and NBA jointly this morning announced the Adelaide 36ers, Melbourne United, New Zealand Breakers, Perth Wildcats and Sydney Kings, would play seven games against NBA teams in the 2018 NBA preseason.

BRING IT ON: Andrew Bogut is keen to renew acquaintances in Hawai'i with the Clippers.

The NBLers will test their mettle against the Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz, from September 28 to October 5.

“The increased number of games symbolizes the continued strength of the NBL-NBA partnership and the growth of our league in Australia and New Zealand,” NBL owner and Executive Chairman Larry Kestelman said.

“These initiatives continue to position the NBL as the second best league and entertainment product in the world outside the NBA.”

While Euroleague may have something to say about that, there's no doubting the NBL's credibility has grown under Kestelman's stewardship, the decision by NBA champion Andrew Bogut to forsake two final years there to instead play for Sydney Kings a major shot-in-the-arm.

Reigning NBL champion Melbourne United, which last year took Oklahoma City Thunder to a one-point decision in Oklahoma, will face the Eastern Conference's third-ranked Philadelphia 76ers on September 28 at Wells Fargo Center.

This game will work on so many levels, with Australia's historic first NBA award winner - Melbourne-born Ben Simmons yesterday taking out Rookie of the Year honours - steering the 76ers from the point and kept "on point" by coach Brett Brown.

Australia's 2010 FIBA World Cup and 2012 London Olympic Boomers coach, Brown won an NBL championship in 1994 with North Melbourne Giants before also coaching Sydney Kings.

His wife Anna is Australian and in 1992, while he was assistant coach with Melbourne Tigers' NBL team - United's forerunner - their lineup included Ben Simmons' father David.

United’s championship-winning coach Dean Vickerman today hit social media, saying: “The opportunity to coach against my former coach Brett Brown & NBA ROTY @BenSimmons25 will be a true honor. Both have had a great impact on basketball in this country and especially in Melb!!Thank you @NBL. #NBLxNBA #United”

Then he cheekily added: “All we need now is for @KingJames to join the 76ers. #NBAvsNBL”

On September 29, the Perth Wildcats will take on Aussie duo Joe Ingles and Dante Exum when they hit Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City to spar with Utah Jazz.

The NBL's most consistently successful club also gets a shot at Torrey Craig and the Denver Nuggets on October 5 at the Pepsi Center.

Melbourne United also has a second crack, this time against Toronto Raptors on October 5 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada.

Bogut will step out for the Sydney Kings against the LA Clippers at Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu on September 30.

With a history of fireworks with Clippers centre Deandre Jordan (and also the departed Blake Griffin), Bogut said he was looking forward to the stoush and also the location, it being Hawai'i.

FLASHBACK: Andrew Bogut, left, invites Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan to an Aussie barbecue, offering them a few free chops.

The New Zealand Breakers will take on Phoenix Suns at the Talking Stick Resort Arena on October 3.

The Adelaide 36ers face Utah Jazz at the Vivint Smart Home Arena on October 5. 

“We couldn’t be more thrilled,” 36ers owner Grant Kelley said.

“The other clubs such as Melbourne, Sydney and Perth are all big-market clubs and the New Zealand Breakers are huge and really will be representing a country.

“So for us, going to play Utah Jazz, with a South Australian like Joe Ingles, is a terrific result.”

NBA Asia Managing Director Scott Levy said: “We are excited to build on our partnership with the NBL to expand the number of their teams participating in this year’s NBA preseason.

“There’s incredible momentum around basketball in Australia and New Zealand, and our fans can look forward to a tremendous slate of games showcasing some of the best talent the NBA and NBL have to offer.”

United playing OKC, the Kings playing Utah and Brisbane Bullets facing Phoenix Suns last year was big. But today absolutely was a golden day in National Basketball League history.

36ers historic NBA coup

TOMORROW: Larry, Lord of the Rings

Jun 27

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