BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE There’s a big, big sound from the west of the town.
No, I’m not talking about Saturday’s AFL grand final and the possibility of Greater Western Sydney turning the city of Melbourne into something very desolate if they get up.
I’m rewinding a week or so back to the night basketball showed why it’s still a big deal in this region.
On the western side of Leven River, a full house was on hand at the Ulverstone Sports and Leisure Centre for the opening tip-off of the NBL Blitz.
It would be fair to say no-one quite knew what to expect, not even this scribe who drove over the bridge and expected to find a spot in the car park pretty easily.
It’s no secret the Tasmanian sporting public are notorious for lateness – late in buying the tickets in the first place and then late arriving at the venue with everyone else. To be honest, most don’t bother buying tickets at all and just expect to pay at the door.
Last Thursday night was different though – 30 minutes before tip-off and the car park was full, the surrounding streets were full. My first thought was that there was something else happening in the precinct. Not even a North-West Thunder grudge match against Hobart brought this many people out.
Most importantly thought, the stadium was full, and what a sight it was. So much so that those who thought they could roll up and pay at the door were turned away.
The NBL kept up their end of the bargain as well. League owner Larry Kestelman is clearly keen on expanding into the Tasmanian market and wasn’t about to do things on the cheap to woo potential customers.
Social media coverage was plentiful and showed to me the following the league has in every state on the mainland is on a continuous upward trend.
I’ll admit to not watching a lot of NBL over the last few years, but you couldn’t help be impressed with the product on offer.
The opening game between Brisbane and the NBL1 All-Stars starkly showed the gap in class – it appeared every Bullets player was as tall as the tallest opposition player. Cairns and Adelaide then produced a highly entertaining show to follow.
So where to from here?
To me it’s a no-brainer, Tasmania deserves and will be the 10th team in the NBL. Kestelman will make sure of it as long as he gets the keys to the Derwent Entertainment Centre.
He doesn’t have to worry about television rights and he has a product that is gaining traction around the world.
Don’t bother comparing this to what happened in the 1990s, this version of the NBL is a different beast.
Get on board Tasmania.