NBA franchises interested in more NBL clashes

NBL owner Larry Kestelman has confirmed more NBA franchises want to play Australian teams, opening the door for the Illawarra Hawks to lock in a blockbuster clash with an American giant in the coming seasons.

Picture: NBL

Picture: NBL

The NBL will break new ground next month when Melbourne United, Sydney Kings and Brisbane Bullets prepare to play matches against Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns.

Kestelman hopes it’s the beginning of a prosperous partnership with the elite US competition.

"We will see how this season goes but we have already had invitations from NBA clubs wanting other clubs to come across and play pre-season games," Kestelman said.

“A lot of that is to do that with that partnership.

“I am heading over to the NBA and meeting with the bosses to talk about what further cooperation we can do together.

“Three games is amazing, so if we can keep getting three games a year, I would be a very happy man. We will keep working on that.”

If a blockbuster NBA encounter was to eventuate, it wouldn’t occur until next season at the earliest.

The first of next month’s inaugural three matches will take place just days before the NBL season tips-off on October 5.

The NBL and WNBL officially launched their seasons at a joint event in Melbourne on Monday.

Kestelman spoke passionately of his bold vision for the game in Australia and stressed his desire for basketball to move past soccer and cricket as the nation’s premier summer sport.

“The sleeping giant of Australian sport is awake and we are coming," he said.

“People have forgotten the popularity and how good we are at this sport. We are bloody amazing.

"We want to be Australia's No.1 summer sport and one of the biggest sports in the country.

"We have an opportunity to take basketball in Australia to the next level.”

Meanwhile, Melbourne United claimed the NBL Blitz over the weekend.

United finished on level points with the Hawks, but took home the Loggins-Bruton Cup on points differential.

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