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NBL, WNBL Round 1, Thursday

HERE we go at long last with tip offs tonight into what should be epic 2017-18 NBL and WNBL seasons.

Two of the NBL's giants face off at Titanium Security Arena while in Melbourne, the WNBL's richest rivalry resumes.

This week's Sydney Kings-Utah Jazz NBL-NBA game in Salt Lake City, on top of a Boomers Gold Medal at the FIBA Asia Cup and an Opals' Silver at their first Asia Cup foray - all seen live on FOX SPORTS/ESPN - has whet the appetite for what promises to be some of the best on-court action we've witnessed.

Yesterday we previewed the WNBL here and on Saturday, we'll look through all the NBL teams. But for now, let the music start, the clapping and feet stomping on in full force and get that ball in the air!


Melbourne United at Adelaide 36ers


FINALLY it's tip-off time and who better to start the 2017-18 action than 2017's regular season champion Adelaide and undisputed title favourite Melbourne? It brings together the Merlion Cup and Loggins-Bruton Cup champs respectively as we head into a season which may be more even than 2016-17, if that's even conceivable. United's potential starting five is the most complete we've seen for a long time, with Casper Ware, Chris Goulding, Casey Prather, Dave Andersen and Josh Boone all stars in their own right. Joey Wright, on the other hand, will have his work cut out and will rely on his up-tempo game style to wear away United's resilience. But the visitors also boast great depth - who wouldn't want to have someone such as Tai Wesley, David Barlow or Majok Majok coming off the bench? - and Adelaide is hamstrung in the big-man area with import Ronald Roberts still nursing a sore knee from the 36ers' Singapore tournament. He won't play, and that hurts. At home, this becomes an opening night "must win" as the trip into Sydney on Saturday will be no picnic and a 0-2 start could prove hellacious. It's style versus substance and while the head says Melbourne, the heart says Adelaide in a tight contest.


Melbourne Boomers at Dandenong Rangers


ARCH crosstown rivals, this one will be a huge challenge for the Boomers at Stud Rd. The individual matchups, should they happen, are enticing. Check out Sara Blicavs versus Jenna O'Hea, Asia Cup Opals teammates Steph Blicavs versus Maddie Garrick, Kayla Pedersen against Liz Cambage, two ex Perth Lynx bigs in Carley Mijoviuc versus Louella Tomlinson. In the end though, with so much talent on display, the result of this will be determined on the sidelines by who has the best combat strategy, Dandenong's Larissa Anderson or Melbourne's Guy Molloy? Both are astute coaching mentors but if anything, the Boomers boast the more stable lineup, bringing back six players from last season. Dandenong made it to the Grand Final but surprisingly only brought back three. It sounds like the formula for a Melbourne road upset to tip off 2017-18.

NBL TOMORROW: Illawarra Hawks at Cairns Taipans

WNBL TOMORROW: Sydney Uni Flames at Adelaide Lightning, Bendigo Spirit at Canberra Capitals

Oct 5

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