ALEX FAIR THE ADVOCATE Ulverstone and Devonport stadiums have been confirmed as host venues for NBL Blitz pre-season contests next month, with three of the 10 matches that will be staged in Tasmania in this region.
Ulverstone will host a double-header to open the four day visit from the national competition on Thursday, September 19, when Brisbane hosts an NBL 1 All-Stars side at 6pm, before Cairns and Adelaide do battle at 8pm.
A night later, Devonport will host new club South East Melbourne and Sydney at 7.30pm.
The fixture opens up the opportunity for Andrew Bogut and Craig Moller (Sydney), Adam Gibson and Mitch Creek (South East Melbourne) and Harry Froling (Adelaide) to visit the Coast, while Brisbane is coached by Australian boss Andrej Lemanis.
It sees NBL owner and executive chairman Larry Kestelman, who has said he hopes to an announce a Tasmanian team by the end of the year,deliver on his promise that the pre-season competition would include the entire state.
“We’re making sure that half of the games will be played in the North and the North-West,” he said on Monday.
“So wherever possible, we’ll push out as much content as we can and throughout Tassie. That’s what the (NBL) Blitz is about and the opportunity for people to get so close in some of the smaller venues and the fact they will see top global talent in a 1000-seat venue is incredible.”
“Just the fact that people in the North-West will be able to get access to that sort of talent is what our sport brings.”
Kestelman believed the spread of matches over the four day period, which also see games played at Kingborough, at the Silverdome in Launceston and Derwent Entertainment Centre, was a sign of his competition’s desire for the state.
“Hopefully people can see our commitment to Tasmania for bringing the Blitz here,” he said.
“I think the fact that the government is open to bringing this quality of product is great.
“I am not sure that Tassie has ever seen quality of sport on this level this close and I don’t know what this rivals, but to have all of our teams here in unheard of.”
Kestelman also said he hoped there would be some “Tassie players and coaches on board especially from the North-West (Thunder)” when it came to the NBL1 representative team.
Deputy Premier and Sport and Recreation Minister Jeremy Rockliff said on Tuesday: “We are excited that the NBL Blitz is coming to Tasmania, in particular that the event will be a truly statewide event with games played in Devonport, Ulverstone, Launceston and two venues in Hobart.
“The government believes that our support of the NBL Blitz is both an outstanding opportunity to expose Tasmania’s brand on a national and international stage but also an excellent vehicle to test the State’s appetite for high level basketball content while we consider the proposal to base a team in Tasmania full time.”
The North-West Coast fixtures also ensure there will be no direct clash with the NWFL grand final on September 21.
Games in Launceston on the Saturday and Hobart on the Sunday, will also ensure there is no clash with the TSL grand final, which will be played in the South on September 21.
NBL BLITZ FIXTURES
Thursday, September 19
Ulverstone Sports and Leisure Centre
6pm: Brisbane v NBL1, All-Stars. 8pm: Cairns v Adelaide.
Friday, September 20
Devonport Recreation Centre
7.30pm: South East Melbourne v Sydney