NBL vs NBA series gets green light
THE NBL versus NBA pre-season series is confirmed for later this year and talks are already taking place to play games in 2020.
NBL chief executive Jeremy Loeliger has revealed the successful concept has been given the green light to go ahead for the third time in September and October.
It's a significant achievement given international basketball has a busy schedule this year with the FIBA World Cup in China to be played in September and October.
The 2019/2020 NBL season, which will feature a ninth team in the South East Melbourne Phoenix, is expected to start on October 3.
Despite these scheduling challenges, Loeliger said NBA teams want to continue playing pre-season matches against teams from Australia.
"We are looking to square the series away and hopefully announce in the not-too-distant future," Loeliger said.
"Timing this year has been a real challenge for us because we've got a new team joining the league in South East Melbourne.
"That is placing more and more pressure on our schedule, so logistically it may be a bit of a nightmare, but it's such a good opportunity that we will make it work one way or another."
The NBA view the NBL as a legitimate league that can provide their players with a stern test, Loeliger said.
The Americans also respect the Australian league from a business perspective, which wasn't always the case when the NBL financially struggled prior to Larry Kestelman's arrival as owner in 2015.
"People in the NBA are no longer wondering if the NBL is going to be there in two years' time," Loeliger said.
"The clubs have a good appetite to play against NBL teams. So much so that we are having conversations about this coming October (and) October 2020.
"That demonstrates we've created a league and an environment where people now regard us as both sustainable and creditable."
■ Andrew Bogut has moved a step closer to his second NBA championship after helping Golden State beat Houston, 118-13, in game six of the Western Conference semi-finals.
Bogut started the game, and while he only had three rebounds and zero points in an 11-minute stint, he was defensively sound,
The Warriors have advanced to the Western Conference Finals, where they will meet the winner of the Portland versus Denver series.