Now or never for NBL: Hawks' Campbell warns

Talk of a basketball rebirth in Australia has Wollongong Hawks captain Mat Campbell fearing the NBL is focusing too hard on the future while the 2008-09 season languishes in obscurity.The National Basketball League and Basketball Australia recently completed stage two of an extensive 15-month review process, formulating a blueprint to unify the two bodies and "replace" the NBL with a new "elite competition".Heading the review to-do list is a plan to revive the NBL, which has almost dropped off the sporting radar as far as the public and most media outlets are concerned.Crowds are down at most venues, while FOX Sports will only start screening games later this month, five weeks after the season tipped off.Campbell, the Hawks' official player representative, is the first to admit basketball needs an overhaul to raise the sport's profile.But he urged the NBL not to wait for next year to start promoting the game."The biggest concern I can see with the league at the moment is that I don't think they're taking the time to put into the league as it is now. There's too much worrying about what's happening next year," the 14th-season guard said."All this new stuff's coming out and they're worried about what's going to happen next year, and they should put more effort into focusing on now."How do we generate some support? How do we generate some enthusiasm media-wise, on the bigger scale for the NBL?"Let's focus on now and get the league to where it has been, so if they do make a transition, it's only an easy transition, rather than the league falling off and having to build it back up again."As a player's rep, I don't really dwell on it too much. My job is to come here and play basketball and win games, and it's the NBL's job to try and sort out. But as a player who's been part of the league for 13 years, I am a little worried about it."Review committee chairman David Thodey released a statement last week, outlining objectives to establish a new governing body for basketball in Australia.The committee recently forwarded several recommendations to NBL clubs and stakeholders and a meeting between the relevant parties will be held on November 8.Campbell said the NBL wasn't sufficiently keeping players up to date with the latest developments."There are questions I passed on to the NBL myself, and they don't have any answers for that at the moment, and that's sort of the problem," he said."They're going to have us in on the talks when they actually have them, but they need to start feeding those kinds of things through now, and reassure people out there that we're going to have jobs. You've got guys with mortgages and kids that are worried now because we don't know how many teams are going to be there."You don't want to have guys playing professional basketball at the top level in Australia worrying about what's happening next year. For the competition to survive, you need people focusing on playing hard and giving the best spectacle we can for the fans so they keep coming back and the sponsors come."The NBL's assured us they're going to have some player input on it. "Hopefully they let everybody have their say and we can get this stuff right."

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