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Author Topic: § Oceania & Australia Basketball News, Stories & Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto en Oceanía y Australia  (Read 143510 times)
Ground Ball
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« Reply #16 on: Feb 02, 2013, 09:12:51 PM »

Oceania & Australia Basketball News, Stories & Events • Noticias, Historias & Eventos del Baloncesto en Oceanía y Australia

Growing the game
Paulo Kennedy’s View from Downunder
Ok, so before I get onto what I promised to talk about I have to quickly give a shout out to Glen Saville.

One of Australia’s greatest ever small forwards, the 37-year-old Sav was sadly forced to retire after suffering a serious knee injury last week against New Zealand.

I’ll give him the write up he deserves in coming weeks but until then,
congrats Sav on a fantastic career.
So back to the WNBL and what needs to be done to generate more revenue. From what I can tell it’s not an easy task.

While different criteria can be used, the WNBL’s average weekly reach of combined TV viewers and game attendances can be described as around 30,000-35,000 people. That’s not a lot of exposure when you're asking a company to invest in unpredictable economic times.

The WNBL’s commercial potential is quite similar to the VFL, a semi-professional Australian rules football league.

They both have similar television deals with the ABC and attract similar ratings and crowds. Fittingly, the WNBL’s major sponsorship deal with iiNet fetches a very similar amount of money as the VFL’s naming rights agreement with Peter Jackson.

I understand the WNBL’s target range for a naming rights sponsor is higher, around the $100,000 mark, but what would that deliver even if signed?

Kristi Harrower suggested it could be distributed to clubs to help cover their player cost burden.

That makes sense in the short term, but unless the money generated can help significantly increase the weekly reach of 30,000 it isn't going to make a dent, and the sponsor will have no reason to re-sign when the deal expires. The circle will continue.

At the end of the day, the WNBL product on its own is very unlikely to attract the commercial support needed to achieve the improvements its players are hoping for.

That might sound like doom and gloom, but it’s not. Let’s take a look at tennis for a few rays of sunshine.

Depending on what you read, the average prize money at separate men’s ATP tour events is around 30-50 per cent higher than women’s WTA events.

Like the NBL, which has a weekly reach three-four times greater than the WNBL, the ATP events attract more fans and sponsors.

The good news is that all four tennis Grand Slams, which are joint events, have equal prize money.

Part of the reason is these events are sold as one entire product, there is no separation of ticketing revenue, media rights or sponsorship. Once costs are covered the remaining money can be split up as organisers see fit.

Selling both genders opens up significantly more avenues to generate sponsorship than single-gender events because you have more ‘target markets’ covered.

So even though the men’s side generates more revenue, if you split the grand slams both sides would likely lose out financially.

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What does this have to do with basketball?

Australia's Kristi Harrower lays up a shot after getting past USA's Tina Charles and Sue Bird with her teammate Lauren Jackson coming to help during a women's semifinals basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, in London. Photograph AP by Charles Krupa.

Well, if Basketball Australia can find a joint product to sell they can generate revenue well above what the NBL and WNBL do individually, which at this point is insufficient for growth.

And while some are quick to label BA “sexist”, if you want to pin them down for something it is 15-20 years of letting their valuable “joint product” hide, unnoticed, because they had little idea what it entailed or how to sell it.

Basketball Australia’s slogan is “everyone’s game”, yet they haven’t known how many people play the sport, what age they are, what gender they are, how often they play, where they live, how many families have multiple basketballers in them – the list could go on and on.

“A huge Achilles heel of our sport at the moment is we really don’t have any key commercial partners, yet we are one of the highest participation sports,” said Graeme Allan, BA’s new General Manager of Game Development.

“I can’t go to a key partner and say this is truly our market.”

Ever since the boom of the 90s that saw basketball reach the upper echelons of participation sports in Australia, it simply has not been able to generate revenue from that success, nor access what would seem a fair share of public funding.

But new CEO Kristina Keneally has set Allen the task of completing a registration database for all participants ASAP so BA knows EXACTLY what the sport’s footprint is.

“Kristina has made it very clear to me that she needs this to happen, basketball needs this to happen and I need this to happen,” Allen said.

While in the past there has appeared to be reluctance from local and state associations to “hand over” their data, Allen says now there is a clear plan and methodology he is meeting nothing but enthusiasm.

After all, the project will likely make basketball cheaper to play, government funding for facilities easier to attain, and commercial revenue easier to generate.

“We have a federated model at the moment where the associations pay the states and the states support BA. We need to get more to the AFL model where the income and commerciality is driven from the top to benefit the rest of the sport,” Allen said.

“I anticipate we’ll have that (participant database) mapped out by no later than the middle of this year and we’ll have it in place and operational by the end of the calendar year.”

And there lies the future for the NBL and WNBL. At the moment what they can generate alone is barely enough to keep their leagues alive let alone grow.

But when BA can make it perfectly clear to government and private enterprise exactly how popular and widespread basketball is, and what demographics can be reached by investing in “everyone’s game”, the whole sport from top to bottom benefits.

Crucially, through both the database and the goodwill this can generate with local associations, BA can finally link the massive grassroots with the under-supported elite competitions.

NBL databases are in the tens of thousands while there are believed to be close to one million basketballers in Australia!

BA has failed for a long time in these crucial areas, it is one of the main reasons the sport has gone from a position of commercial strength and opportunity 15-20 years ago to bare bones now.

Credit to the new regime for tackling this head on, if they can get this right the future is bright.

If it can’t, then elite clubs of both genders will constantly be scraping to get by and firing various salvos at BA for not doing enough.

Paulo Kennedy from FIBA

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ESB Mario Sebastiani
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« Reply #15 on: Jan 19, 2013, 11:49:35 PM »

Oceania & Australia Basketball News, Stories & Events • Noticias, Historias & Eventos del Baloncesto en Oceanía y Australia

Really? Sexism again?

The complaint of sexism has again raised its ugly head in Australian basketball.

Remember ‘Business Class Gate’ before the London , when a member of the Australian Opals complained anonymously to a journalist that her team had to fly Economy while the Aussie men’s team was up the pointy end.

“Sexism” and “disrespect” were the cries. The women’s team is more successful so they should get the same treatment as the men from Basketball Australia, was the mantra.

It caught on with the mainstream media, who know there is a significant audience for “hard done by” stories.

Of course, as it turned out Basketball Australia had very little to do with which flights the respective teams travelled on. Each team’s management were given a budget, which was reportedly bigger for the Opals, and they had to choose how to spend it.

So as you can imagine I was pretty keen to actually examine the facts last week when Canberra Capitals guard Jessica Bibby accused Basketball Australia of … you guessed it … sexism.

What was the issue? Basketball Australia ordered the Capitals to cease a trial where they were live streaming their home games over the internet.


Bibby’s case is that Basketball Australia set up NBL.TV this past off-season for the men’s competition without establishing a WNBL equivalent, and them taking the next step of shutting down a club-based streaming initiative was confirmation of discrimination against the country’s female ballers.

Canberra Capitals guard Jessica Bibby is fouled by Kylie Reid on her way to the basket. Picture: Colleen Petch Source: Herald Sun

It’s been hard to really gage BA’s reasoning on this one because they have been pretty silent on it. That appears to be by far their biggest crime.

One WNBL game per week is being streamed live by the ABC, so maybe this contradicts that deal?

BA have said for a while they are working on a deal to secure WNBL.TV next season, maybe they feel the quality or lack thereof of the Capitals’ efforts might negatively impact on that?

A live streaming effort by a number of NBL clubs a few years ago was at times lacking in quality and reliability, perhaps BA are trying to learn from that lesson which created a reputation of dodgy steaming for the NBL?

Either of those would be valid reasons, but I just wish BA would speak up and let us know. My personal feeling is they should let the streaming continue unless it is a contravention of a rights deal.

As for “sexism”, once again it appears to be a case of the girl who cried wolf.

NBL.TV was able to be set up because demand from international betting agencies, and over half of the league’s games already being covered by TV, made it viable.

Go to one of those betting sites and you do not see a lot of streaming of women’s basketball games, and only one WNBL game per week is broadcast on the government-funded television stations, hence WNBL.TV is taking some more work.

Perhaps knowing her claim of sexism regarding live streaming lacked any real evidence, Bibby also pointed to the “discrimination” of NBL players having access to Virgin airlines’ lounge on road trips while WNBL players didn’t.

Of course, a quick trip to the respective websites tells you the NBL is sponsored by Virgin and the WNBL is not. I wonder if that has anything to do with it?

Not content, John Tuxworth, the journalist Bibby fed her accusations to, added at the bottom of his second article on the topic that:

“Basketball Australia's 2010-11 annual report reveals $3.447 million, or 31.4 per cent of total expenditure, was on the NBL. By comparison $787,000 or 7.2 per cent was on the WNBL.”

What he failed to mention, of course, is how much revenue each league generated for BA.

The NBL has attracted a naming rights sponsor, the WNBL has not. The NBL has attracted a commercial television deal, the WNBL has not. The NBL averages 5000 people per game, many WNBL clubs would be happy with 10 per cent of that figure.

As politicians say over and over again, “it’s the economy stupid”.

Between flights to the Olympics, live streaming that appears to be about rights and revenue, airline lounge access that is about sponsorship, and expenditure that is simply about revenue generated, there are a lot of things being blamed on sexism for little more than publicity’s sake.

Sadly, when something does happen that is actually based on gender, that claim may well have lost its credibility.

Paulo Kennedy from FIBA

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« Reply #14 on: Jan 13, 2013, 02:05:06 AM »

Oceania & Australia Basketball News, Stories & Events • Noticias, Historias & Eventos del Baloncesto en Oceanía y Australia

They're partying in Cairns

It was a great night for Cairns tonight.

Cairns is a small city in the remote far north of Queensland, home to around 150,000 residents with a community-owned professional  team, the Taipans.

When the ‘Snakes’ went all the way to the 2011  Grand Final, despite only spending about 75% of the  cap, the city went crazy.

Last  things went to another level, with the 5300 Cairns Convention Centre almost always close to sold out. That’s around one in 30 residents in the building!

Sadly, injuries  in the  meant the Taipans missed the playoffs on head-to-head, but with some solid recruiting expectations in the tropics were as high as the humidity.

So what do you think happened when the team slipped to 4-10 last week and into the bomb shelter for the first time since 2004? Negative media? Fan boycotts? Finger pointing?

None of it. In fact, the fans gave the players a guard of honour at the airport as they flew out to Wollongong to meet Gordie McLeod’s fourth-placed Hawks.

Then on game day they stirred up a tidal wave of support on social media that filled any basketball follower’s twitter feed!

The result? The Taipans came from seven points down with a few minutes to play to force overtime and then claim a 13-point win, 94-81, in the extra period!

Import Jamar Wilson was his composed self again and veterans Alex Loughton and Aaron Grabau seemed to hit all the shots their diminutive leader created.

The players’ on-court celebrations said it all.

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It was the icing on the cake for Cairns in a week where the San Antonio Spurs bought out the contract of former Taipans Academy player Aron Baynes from Ljubljana in Slovenia.

The Australian Aron Baynes under the basket trying to stop Pau Gasol. Photograph: Jorge Guerrero - AFP.'

Amazingly, when Baynes steps onto the floor he will be the second player from Cairns to make it to the NBA, remembering that Australia has only produced 10 players who’ve made the big time in the USA.

The other ‘Cairns-ite’ is Nathan Jawai who now plies his trade for Barcelona and who also came through the Taipans Academy.

Current Taipans head coach Aaron Fearne has had a long involvement with the Academy and deserves an enormous amount of credit for the amount of work he put in with the big guys.

This past off-season they were both back in Cairns working out under Fearne’s watchful and oft-pedantic eye.

In fact, remarkably, Baynes was having trouble securing another import contract in Europe despite a very good year in the Greek league, and there was even an outside chance he may have played back with the Taipans.

Two average years prior to that in Lithuania and Germany and the diminishing reputation of the once great Hellas competition meant Baynes’ bargaining position was not strong.

But despite his early professional struggles Baynes never stopped working, and his chance to impress came at the London Olympics with Andrew Bogut out injured and Aleks Maric out of touch after becoming permanently affixed to the Panathinaikos bench.

I don’t think many people who saw Baynes embarrassingly out of his depth in the 2009 FIBA Oceania  would have seen his Olympic performance coming.

He used his athleticism, power and strength with a degree of restraint that had previously been absent, and his combination with Matthew Dellavedova was one of the highlights of the tournament, at least for those of us Downunder.

But even after a breakout Olympics I could not have seen the impact he would have at Ljubljana, leading the Euroleague efficiency  after the regular season.

Like his powerful body, Baynes is simply an irrepressible force at the moment, and there is no better way to hit the NBA hardcourts than full of confidence.

Who knows how he will go, but you can be sure he will receive unwavering support from the proud people of Cairns even if he has some early struggles.

I’m sure the Taipans players will tell you that’s about all you need !

Paulo Kennedy from FIBA

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« Reply #13 on: Dec 08, 2012, 06:22:39 AM »

Oceania & Australia Basketball News, Stories & Events • Noticias, Historias & Eventos del Baloncesto en Oceanía y Australia

Does the NBLPA have a ‘point’ ?

Here is the conclusion to my column two weeks ago about the NBL Players Association’s (NBLPA) campaign to remove the Player Points Cap (PPC) from Oceania’s premier competition.

The key questions in this debate are does the PPC restrain NBL players’ trade? And is the league in a position where it can discard the PPC without it affecting key factors in its sustainability? Most notably parity and spending on player salaries.

NBLPA President Jacob Holmes was very generous with his time explaining the NBLPA’s point of view.

When I asked for specific examples of players’ trade being restricted by the PPC, he referred to former Brisbane Bullets swingman Mick Hill, a valuable reserve in their 2007 championship team.

Following the 2008  the Bullets handed back their NBL licence, while the Sydney Kings and Singapore Slingers also dropped out of the competition.

Holmes said Hill's points value was a key factor in his NBL  finishing then and there.

"Clubs just weren’t willing to commit eight points to a player of his level and that’s just a blatant restriction of his trade,” Holmes said.

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“It wasn’t due to salary, it wasn’t due to anything except his eight points."

Another example Holmes provided was Australian Boomer and Murcia (Spanish ACB) forward David Barlow, who was recently quoted as saying: "One of the main reasons I would want to come back to  is for  security, but the points system takes that security away, makes players with higher ratings at risk of losing their ."

David Barlow #10 of Australia celebrates with Patrick Mills #5, David Andersen #13 and Joe Ingles #7 after making the game winning three point shot against Russia in the final seconds of the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena on August 6, 2012 in London, England

His theory was teams performing poorly might offload players with a high points value so they could overhaul their rosters.

In terms of Hill, the big question is whether it was it the contraction from 13 teams to 10, his approaching 30th birthday and average of 7.8 points at 34% that led to him missing out on a job, or was it his PPC rating?

It could be argued he was incorrectly rated given his poor statistics. That is a case for adjustment, not removal of the system.

With 25-30 less positions for locals from 2008 to 2009, and another two teams dropping out the following , a large number of players were going to miss out.

Yes, a hypothetical case could be made that without a points system it might have been someone else and not Hill, but are hypothetical 'mights' enough to make a significant overhaul of the way NBL rosters are governed?

In terms of Barlow’s comments, I have thought long and hard, but I cannot recall one local player being dropped because of his high points rating in the history of the system.

There’s no reason for them to, the points rating assigned is based on their statistics. If their numbers drop, so does their rating.

Players who have produced the numbers that earn nine or 10-point ratings are in high demand and get the best contract offers.

The NBLPA have recruited Brendan Schwab, General Secretary of the Australian Athletes Alliance, to help their cause, and earlier in the year he wrote: “a points system effectively involves management grading players and then deciding, based on those grades, who can play for whom and who can earn what.”

Again, this shows a complete lack of understanding of how the points system works, and calls into question the NBLPA’s case.

The PPC does not decide “who can earn what”. Clubs pay players what they deem them to be worth in accordance with market value.

There is correlation between PPC ratings and salary, but that is because they are both based on a players’ performance and their value to the team.

So after reading Schwab’s position, Barlow’s comments and listening to Jacob Holmes’ arguments I simply cannot find real examples where the PPC is a restraint of players’ trade.

However, that does not mean the NBL should not listen to what they have to say.

It should never be forgotten that the players are what makes the NBL a high quality and – by world standards – well-supported competition.

If players are genuinely unhappy, it is time to find middle ground. But where is it?

I am particularly impressed by the NBLPA members’ stated willingness to open up their personal finances to scrutiny to help strict enforcement of the salary cap.

This is a serious olive branch reinforcing their belief a well-enforced salary cap is both possible and a genuine alternative to a points system.

To test out this theory, and move towards getting rid of the PPC, the NBLPA should offer to a two-year trial of this with the points cap still in place.

Clear guidelines would be needed stating exactly what would make a successful trial. If they are met that would trigger a new collective bargaining agreement without a PPC.

If they trial is unsuccessful, and the NBL cannot reliably identify payments through this system – a vital requirement to maintain parity and give all teams a chance at sustainability – the onus is on the NBLPA to come up with another system that could work.

From my point of view the biggest issues for the NBL are increasing the number of clubs so there are more than a measly 65  for local players, and ensuring the sustainability of current clubs so there isn't a further reduction in the number of jobs.

Removing the PPC does not help achieve either of those goals, so for mine the onus is on the NBLPA to show how its removal can be achieved in a low-risk way.

If they are prepared to undergo a trial to demonstrate this then I congratulate them. If they will only accept the immediate removal of the PPC I think they are putting their own personal interest ahead of the health of the sport.

 Paulo Kennedy from FIBA

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« Reply #12 on: Nov 20, 2012, 01:46:54 AM »

Oceania & Australia Basketball News, Stories & Events • Noticias, Historias & Eventos del Baloncesto en Oceanía y Australia

Cedric the great

Remember the days when people would have only a handful of jobs their entire lives? And some would find a good  and stick with it until that golden handshake?

Things have changed a lot, people in their 20s today don’t last much longer than two years in the one job on average. That’s made the landscape of life vastly different, and basketball certainly hasn’t been spared.

In the “good old days” of  basketball, imports would arrive from the USA, fall in love with the country and stay for years, if not decades.

That coincided with the early years of the , when imports could dominate the local talent, and so a generation or two of truly legendary imports were created.

One of those was the great Darryl McDonald, a New York playground legend who arrived in 1994 at the ripe age of 30 to begin his  career.

He revolutionised a league that had traditionally relied on imports to score the points by leading the North Melbourne Giants to the championship by getting his teammates involved.

He averaged 10.0 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 4.5 steals per night in his stunning debut , and 7.2 dimes, 4.5 boards and 2.6 thefts over his career.

His amazing passing, incredible defensive anticipation and feel for the game were something  fans had never seen before.

Amazingly enough, given his late arrival, the ‘D-Mac’ finished his NBL career 14 years later with his third championship! As far as legends go, they don’t get much bigger than the D-Mac.

Of , things are different these days. Like the rest of the working world, if an import stays in one job for three or four years that is a long time.

So, for some who long for the stability of the past, comparing any of today’s imports to the legends of yesteryear can be a bit of a taboo. But thanks to a  called Cedric Jackson it is time to blow that thinking out of the water.

When Jackson first arrived at the  Breakers last season, Australian gun CJ Bruton – himself the son of a legendary 80s import who stayed – whispered that ‘Ced’ could be the second coming of the D-Mac.

Sure enough, Jackson helped the Breakers overcome the loss of Kirk Penney to the ACB and defend their NBL title, and he did it averaging just 12.8 points per game.

Excuse the deja-vu, but his 6.5 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals and his uncanny ability to see things unfolding before anyone else on the floor gave hoops fans a time-trip back to 1994!

D-Mac himself doesn’t like getting into comparisons, but he loves  Cedric the Entertainer play.

“I do. That guy is tough. The way he finds people, the way he plays D, he just comes up with the ball, his anticipation is great,” he said.

“I’ve seen him have games where he’s only had five points, but he’s had eight assists and seven rebounds and they win by 10.”

Jackson is clearly peeved he didn’t receive his fourth NBA contract in the off-season after getting only brief minutes in his first stints, and the 26-year-old has taken his game to a new level this season.

Last week he became the first player since Derek Rucker in 1998 to record double figure assists in consecutive games, dishing out 23 in consecutive nights on the road.

Bear in mind that for most of that period, NBL games were played over 48 minutes but are now in the regular FIBA 40-minute format. That didn’t bother Cedric.

So what did he do to celebrate that achievement? He racked up a hat-trick by handing out another 11 dimes tonight against Townsville in front of 7,500 adoring fans in Auckland.

The truth is, when you are talking about the best players of all time you can never accurately split the best, especially when they played in different eras.

But you can tell who belongs in the elite group, and on the evidence of his first 41 games Jackson deserves to mentioned up there with the best Americans ever to come Downunder.

Just like D-Mac, he can and regularly does control a game at both ends without having to score a lot of points.

Both FIBAtv and NBLtv screen NBL games, so do yourself a favour, log on and see what Jackson brings to the table.

He is a special player, and I’m sure Tall Blacks  Nenad Vucinic is praying he hangs around New Zealand for another year or two and picks up a passport!

The last word though, belongs to an Aussie.

Damian Martin has guarded the likes of Nate Robinson, Deron Williams, JJ Redick, Milos Teodosic, Goran Dragic, Patty Mills and CJ Bruton across his NBL, international and college career, but doesn’t hesitate when asked where Jackson ranks.

“He’d be in the top three hardest players I’ve faced, including NBA and European stars, and I mean that,” Martin said.

“When you consider both ends of the court, he’d have to be close to the best.”

In fact, he doesn’t expect to have to guard him for much longer.

“I have no idea how he’s not in the NBA,” he said.

 Paulo Kennedy from FIBA

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« Reply #11 on: Oct 08, 2012, 09:34:31 PM »

Oceania & Australia Basketball News & Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Australiano

A strange evening, but worth it

This Friday night was the debut of the NBL's ground-breaking new online broadcasting service - NBL.TV - as the league got underway for 2012-13.

Earlier this week I had bought the cables required to connect my laptop to my TV so I could watch it on a bigger screen, and did all the requisite tests to make sure it worked.

All looked in readiness, so I rushed home from work today to settle in and watch the New Zealand Breakers and Perth Wildcats battle it out in a replay of last year's epic grand final series.

So on goes the computer and television, I log into NBL.TV, select the game and …..


I couldn't believe it. My first reaction was NBL.TV is having an opening night disaster, but as I got onto various social media platforms all I read were fans praising the new service - good quality picture, few bumps in the stream, all that jazz … just not at my place.

After trying everything I pulled out my wife's i-pad to try and get the game that way. I got into the app and tapped on the game and …..


What a miserable evening. Had my house decided to be an NBL.TV free zone? After trying everything within my limited technology realm I gave up.

Perhaps it was FIBA's way of telling me to stop watching basketball and write my column?

So that's what I did, or started to do, until a message came through with a suggestion on how to get NBL.TV going on the i-pad. I tried it and …..

It worked!

So I settled in to enjoy my night of two basketball games. In Auckland the Perth Wildcats were extracting some stylish payback for their heartbreaking loss in last April's title decider.

They were slick, quick, physical and skilful. You name it and they did it. You name it and the Breakers didn't do it - not well anyway.

There were a couple of boys, who realise pushing into the Boomers team this year is essential if they are to play in the inaugural FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain, who played some great basketball.

Damian Martin was the last cut before the London Olympics and played like a man with a renewed goal tonight. In fact, two renewed goals - an NBL title and a World Cup spot.

While his performance and numbers (9 points at 60%, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals) were impressive, centre Matt Knight was just plain dominant.

The size of a power forward but with the strength of a centre, the 2.04m Knight has been missing from the Australian team because of an assortment of injuries.

With a new strength and conditioning coach in Perth this year, Knight has dropped weight and is moving superbly. The Boomers need a replacement for Matt Nielsen, and if Matty keeps replicating his 20 points at 57% and nine rebounds from tonight then he will be that man.

It's not just players battling it out for international berths either.

Word is Brett Brown won't be applying for the Boomers job again and his assistant Andrej Lemanis has been campaigning strongly behind the scenes to be his replacement.

Lemanis also coaches the Breakers had has made almost every post a winner with back-to-back NBL titles the past two years.

His main opposition for the Boomers job, and in the NBL, is Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge - coach of the 2003 U19 World Championship winning team and former assistant of the Boomers.

With the decision to be finalised in coming months every big win for Perth can only help push his case a little. He would have loved a championship win over Lemanis last season.

His real strength though is who he has coached. In that 2003 side was Martin, Knight, Andrew Bogut, Aleks Maric and Brad Newley.

Since then he has tutored the likes of Julian Khazzouh, Luke Nevill and

Nathan Jawai

who will all be battling for a 'big' spot in 2013 and 2014.

Wildcats import and NBL MVP Kevin Lisch, who had 20 classy points tonight, has just received his Australian citizenship. Perth super-sub Jesse Wagstaff is a leading contender to replace

Mark Worthington

if he hangs up his respected international boots.

So it's not out of the question the majority of the 2014 team could be made up of former Beveridge pupils, and as a rule his players rave about him.

Of course, Lemanis has relationships with all squad members as a current assistant, and through his NBL role has intricate knowledge of New Zealand basketball - the team Australia has to beat to get to the Rio Olympics.

It all just adds more spice to this brilliant New Zealand v Perth rivalry.

The other game tonight was Wollongong vs Sydney, and it was fantastic to see a crowd of over 4300 in the 'Gong - one of the regional city's biggest ever opening night turnouts - to cheer their Hawks to a 79-76 victory.

The story of the game was old man river,

Glen Saville

, who after a disappointing 2011/12 season wound back the clock tonight to score 21 points, 15 in the second half.

There were triples, drives, post-ups, sweet assists and even less complaining to the refs than we usually see from the grizzly veteran.

All up, it was a good night of basketball, well worth the wait.

Shame there's only one game tomorrow night…

Paulo Kennedy from FIBA

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« Reply #10 on: Oct 01, 2012, 02:21:39 AM »

Oceania & Australia Basketball News & Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Australiano

Who’s who in the zoo

It’s exciting times Downunder, as it is for fans in many places around the world, because pro basketball is about to hit town again.

Last week was the pre-season tournament for both the NBL and WNBL in Melbourne, giving pundits a chance to see each team play three games across a weekend.

So for the casual fan who wonders where the players they know might be playing, here’s a rundown of the familiar faces in the NBL, particularly the ‘new’ imports and one who appears poised to create excitement with his imminent signature.

Mainstay internationals like New Zealand starters Tom Abercrombie, Mika Vukona and Alex Pledger return for their home country Breakers.

They are joined by FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) sensation Tai Webster – who has an uncontracted role with the Breakers after deciding to attend Nebraska University in 2013-14 – and his very talented brother Corey who is returning from a drug suspension.

Long-time international Dillon Boucher continues to defy his age, while Everard Bartlett, a rookie who impressed with his smart play in Venezuela, seems set for a breakout season for Perth.

Australian mainstays CJ Bruton and Glen Saville are still running around, while current Boomers squad members Peter Crawford, Adam Gibson and Damian Martin will again play big roles.

Recent junior national team stars Mitch Creek, Jason Cadee and Mitch Norton will all have bigger roles this season as they continue towards senior international ranks, while 2007 junior reps Chris Goulding and Daniel Johnson finally seem ready to step into the limelight as key players.

Talented Aussies Mark Worthington, Luke Nevill, Julian Khazzouh and Anatoly Bose have all headed overseas, but former junior nationals Clint Steindl, Nate Tomlinson and Cam Gliddon have returned home from the NCAA.

The imports
Georgetown University great Kevin Braswell is back in the league with Melbourne; Dominican Republic livewire Adris ‘2hard2guard’ Deleon is taking his unique style to the Wollongong Hawks; and former LSU forward Darnell Lazare is impressing in Sydney with his discipline and fundamentals.

In good news for many true hoops fans in Australia, import guard CJ Massingale has finally got a go in the big time after seven years dominating the second tier SEABL for south-east Melbourne club Knox.

Last year’s trio of star imports – Cedric Jackson, Jamar Wilson and Kevin Lisch – return to New Zealand, Cairns and Perth respectively, but it seems they will have a true challenger for best guard in the NBL this year.

Is Gary a Croc?
In what would be the biggest news of the off-season, initial reports suggest the Townsville Crocs have snapped up lightning-quick guard Gary Ervin.

While Ervin doesn’t have an incredible international resume, the last time he was in the NBL he played for the sweet-shooting Wollongong team, whose starting frontcourt both shot the three-pointer at over 41%, and all their wings shot above 36%.

With so much space Ervin was able to utilise his speed to at-times devastating effect and he finished second in points behind only NZ scoring machine Kirk Penney.

Like Wollongong, the Crocs also have shooters at every position. If the reports are true, when Ervin and Croatian club Zadar mutually agreed they were happy to see the back of each other, Townsville coach Paul Woolpert pounced, having coached Ervin previously in the USA.

Tough gig
That same day he had sent his hand-picked imports, Jason Forte and Curtis Withers, packing.

Forte had only had meaningful international stints in Romania, the Philippines and the Turkish second division, nothing that suggested he could be a good NBL player - especially as a ball-handler as Woolpert wanted - and so it turned out.

Withers, who represented the USA strongly at the 2005 FIBA U21 World Championship, has put up solid numbers in Turkey, France and Israel amongst other places, and probably would have been a contributor in Australia given time.

However, with 2.11m former Australian junior rep and St Mary’s University star Ben Allen finally finding his game for the Crocs after two poor seasons, Townsville felt they no longer needed a big import.

That’s sadly the reality for Americans around the world. Perform or go home. Perform, but the rest of the team isn’t working out and you may be sent home anyway. Don’t perform and there are few second chances.

One of the best to come?
And so the NBL season is ready for tip-off next Friday night with a grand final re-match between New Zealand and Perth in Auckland.

With every game broadcast for the first time in league history the Australians, New Zealanders and Americans alike will equally scrutinised from first game until last.

And with the Gold Coast withdrawing in the off-season the competition is as tough and even as ever before - a great environment to see who is made of stern stuff.

Paulo Kennedy from FIBA

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« Reply #9 on: Sep 20, 2012, 05:41:01 AM »

Oceania & Australia Basketball News & Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Australiano

A new Australian Basketball Championship ?

It was interesting chatting to a member of the Australian Boomers Olympic contingent this week, listening to how carefully they tried to manage their pre-tournament build-up to hit the ground running.

They didn't want to peak too soon, didn't want to play too many lead-up matches, were happy to lose to Brazil in an exhibition game ahead of their opening night clash in London …

It was a definitely a thoroughly planned lead-up, but you know what they say about the best laid plans? The Boomers had yet another tentative start to a major tournament, as is their habit.

Since 1998 Australia has had just one quality performance in the opening game of a major tournament, in 2006 when a vastly understrength team shocked Brazil at the FIBA World Championship.

Preparing a team for a tournament or season is not an easy job. It's important in the Olympics, and recent history tells us it is crucial in the NBL.

Over the past three years there has only been one change to the NBL's top four after the first third of the season, and on two of those occasions it has been the fifth-placed team stepping into a playoff spot.

If you want to make the playoffs you had better be on your game early, and that means preparing well.

In Europe, with countless quality teams across more than 20 countries, there is plenty of competition on offer to play multiple exhibition games.

But Downunder there are only eight professional teams - one in New Zealand and the rest spread across the length and breadth of Australia. That is an area not much smaller than continental Europe.

So, as you could imagine, it is difficult to get a lot of practice games.

As a result, most teams try to arrange a couple of two-game series against another NBL team and then play in the three-game NBL pre-season tournament.

That's seven games, and if they're lucky another game will fall into their lap late in the pre-season.

Others look to play in overseas tournaments. This year the Adelaide 36ers headed to China for five games following a match-up with Nicholls State University.

By the time the NBL season starts they will have had around 10 games. The problem is, after playing sides from the NCAA, Serbia, China and a semi-pro US squad they haven't yet faced an NBL standard team.

The Melbourne Tigers found out the damage this can do two seasons ago. After tours of Ireland and China they came into the NBL season almost undefeated, but were simply uncompetitive.

They had some big issues regardless, but playing inferior opposition masked how bad they actually were.

The other issue in NBL pre-season is most games are played in local stadiums to reach out to grassroots basketballers.

Unfortunately, with teams usually featuring numerous new players and not having many games to knit, these contests often aren't great advertisements for the league.

So the solution needs to have volume games, even if against inferior opponents, have games in local stadiums that present NBL teams in a good light, and have plenty of opportunities to play other NBL teams too.

My idea is the Australian Basketball Championship, running through August into early September.

In Australia's state leagues or division two competitions there are some 100 clubs, all linked to a local association.

In a cross between the FA Cup in England and NCAA Tournament in the USA, the Australian Basketball Championship (ABC) would place the top 56 state league teams and eight NBL giants in a six-round knockout competition.

All early games would be home games for state league teams, and the competition could culminate in an eight-team finals event over one weekend in a single location.

If the draw was arranged so at least two state league teams make the final eight it could create some serious anticipation. So would the prospect of an upset when an NBL team comes to play the local heroes.

Most importantly, it would mean NBL teams get 3-6 early practice games, play in front of local crowds against teams they can show their skills off against, with the tournament bringing the disparate Australian basketball community together under one umbrella.

When an NBL team travels as part of the ABC to play a local team, a practice game could be scheduled against that city's NBL team the next day, behind closed doors or for club members only.

Now the number of practice games is up to 6-9 with three weeks to go until season tip off. From there teams can arrange a two-game series and participate in the NBL pre-season tournament and they are into double figures.

Why is this so important? The NBL's biggest regular season TV ratings are almost always in Round 1. Unfortunately, if the broadcast games feature teams who are yet to gel the product isn't one that gets people to tune in again.

This has happened season after season where the viewer drop away is too big, hurting the league's standing with their broadcaster.

An idea like the Australian Basketball Championship creates an extra level of excitement for local basketball fans, brings them close to NBL teams, allows better preparation for the crucial start to the NBL season and gives young state league players a chance to test themselves against professionals.

It's hard to think of negatives that out-weigh those positives.
Paulo Kennedy from FIBA

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« Reply #8 on: Sep 04, 2012, 05:24:46 AM »

Oceania & Australia Basketball News & Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Australiano

Big achievement, but big challenge

It was one of the biggest days for Australian professional basketball in a long time, but it also sets up a make-or-break period.

To the rest of the developed sporting world it mightn’t seem like much, but Basketball Australia (BA) this week announced that every NBL game would be available live through their new online NBL.TV service.

While FIBA TV, NBA TV and Euroleague TV are well established, the NBL is the first Australian sporting league to set up its own dedicated channel with every game available.

There is good reason why this hasn’t happened before Downunder - the holy grail of television.

Under Australian law, major sporting events are protected for free-to-air (FTA) television networks. Australians watch these sports in massive numbers and FTA networks fork out massive amounts and show countless hours, often in prime time.

So sports have always handed over as much product as possible to networks in return for the best rights fee and coverage.

The only internet sports product that has really taken hold in Australia is NBA TV, with reportedly the highest number of subscribers worldwide being from Downunder.

BA took note of this, and also paid attention when tens of thousands of fans tuned into ‘illegal streams’ of NBL semi-final games that weren’t live on FTA.

Intelligently, NBL Marketing & Sales GM Aaron Flanagan reclaimed the online rights when renegotiating the league’s television contract.

Apparently no one in the industry believed they would be able to sell them, but Flanagan worked with Perform Sports – who partner FIBA TV – to create an Australian first.

Over its 34 years, the NBL has never had more than around 60% of its games broadcast, and nowhere near that figure shown live. Now, suddenly, that increases to 100%!

As you might expect, basketball fans have been whooping it up on social media and BA is rightly proud of the deal. But the truth is the hard work starts now.

Back in 1992, after hoops had taken Australia by storm and crowds had risen from a few hundred well into the thousands, Network Ten wanted a piece of the TV action.

The FTA coverage went from highlights and finals games to three live games a week, two of them in prime time. It was a revolutionary deal, not even the country’s biggest sports received such coverage back then.

The only problem was basketball wasn’t ready for it. Network Ten didn’t know how to promote or present the sport to the mainstream, and neither did the NBL.

Hoops went from a huge niche sport to a small mainstream one, ratings were poor and before you could say “Andrew Gaze hits another triple” games were being screened after midnight.

Soon the NBL was off FTA altogether and thus began a descent in its popularity that was only really turned around three years ago.

Part of that change was, ironically, Network Ten committing to a five-year deal in 2010 showing live games in prime time on their FTA sports channel ONE – two in the first year building up to every game by the end of the contract.

Guess what? Network Ten didn’t know how to promote or present the sport to the mainstream, and neither did the NBL!

Games generated three to four times the ratings they had on pay-TV, but this wasn’t up to the levels Network Ten expected on the more widely-watched FTA platform.

Last year, one season into the deal, games were shown at 10.30pm. How the wheel turns.

Wisely, the NBL decided to renegotiate the deal and that brings us to today. This season will see one live game on Ten each Sunday afternoon and a game Friday nights at 9.30pm on ONE - both in far better time slots to balance fan accessibility and achieve realistic ratings.

But the league cannot just hope this and the new online product will be a magic bullet like it did in 1992 and 2010. Both the television and online deals are multi-year, but if people don’t watch, the league will be in serious trouble when the deals expire.

Basketball is considered a ratings flop in Australia, despite around one million people playing the sport. As Mr Flanagan said via Twitter this week, it’s “time to turn that traction into action”.

That’s exactly what Basketball Australia and NBL clubs must do - promote it heavily through social media, school and community visits, game night, every other way possible to get people tuning in.

Most importantly, make sure the product is quality.

In the past two years under Ten’s watch, most of the in-game replays have been of fouls, and the commentators spend more time analysing the refereeing than the game. They didn’t appear to know much about the players. That hardly enhances the viewing experience, and that has to be the utmost priority now.

Secondly, we need to make sure the refereeing is consistent and clean – rarely worth commenting on - allowing the players to fight out a game of skill and strategy. When this happens the NBL is a highly attractive spectacle.

The NBL has a huge opportunity, for that BA must be praised effusively. There has been other steady progress in recent years, they deserve much credit for that too. But they should also know the job is just beginning, because another chance like this mightn’t come along for some time if it flops again.

Paulo Kennedy from FIBA

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« Reply #7 on: Aug 24, 2012, 06:18:52 PM »

Oceania & Australia Basketball News & Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Australiano

Boomers future on ‘the up and up’

Australia’s Patrick Mills of the San Antonio Spurs wasn’t the only Boomer to cause at a stir at the Olympics.

Joe Ingles of Barcelona fame also raised eyebrows with his performances, including a 19-point, eight-rebound and six-assist effort against the United States in the Quarter-Finals.

Everyone wanted to know after that game if Ingles might be latest the Boomer to play in the NBA where Andrew Bogut (Golden State Warriors) and Mills also play.

A person well-suited to offer insight to Ingles’ potential across the Atlantic was Boomers coach Brett Brown.

He is an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs.

"He's multi-faceted, he has a great skills package for his size," Brown said of Ingles.

"His future is on the up and up.

“I think the NBA will pay attention, especially after these Olympic Games."

Ingles stands 2.03m in height and has a big wingspan.

He can hit the three-pointer, put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket and catch alley-oop passes before dunking with authority.

Defensively, he has spent the past two seasons guarding Spanish national team star and Barcelona icon Juan Carlos Navarro in practice.

Still only 24, Ingles, who averaged 15 points, five rebounds and 4.2 assists per game at the Olympics, has his best years ahead of him.

He will be one of the Boomers’ leading players when they compete at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

That should be a very good team, one that should get to the Knockout Round because London also bore witness to a couple of other emerging international talents in guard Matthew Dellavedova and center Aron Baynes.

With Mills returning, and possibly Bogut as well - Australia will be formidable.

A player that Australia will not have is their three-time Olympian Matt Nielsen, who is 34.

Nielsen raved about the progress of Mills and Ingles the past several years because all three were at the Beijing Games as well.

"The thing I've been proud of in the last two Olympics is being part of guys like Joey and Patty's development,” Nielsen said.

"To see those guys especially, I wish I was a bit younger, and I could run up and down with them a bit more. They're special players."


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« Reply #6 on: Jun 29, 2012, 01:35:31 AM »

Oceania & Australia Basketball News & Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Australiano

Time to team up

We've been talking about the Olympics for so long now that it felt like they might never arrive.

But when teams start announcing their final 12s, the sense of imminence grows markedly and that's exactly what happened with Oceania's major countries this week.

On Friday afternoon the Australian Boomers and Opals arrived at the brand new State Basketball Centre in Melbourne to reveal their final rosters to the waiting media.

In a stylish statement to show they are truly London bound they rolled up to the doors in a red double-decker bus.

Across the Tasman Sea it was a very different affair, with the New Zealand Tall Blacks team for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament named with a minimum of fanfare.

The truth is that in a country with only 10 full-time professional basketball players, once a shocking run of injury and unavailability had taken its toll, the squad pretty much picked itself.

Kirk Penney and Thomas Abercrombie's withdrawal meant the country's Olympic qualification chances all but evaporated.

But the hope of seeing the array of young talent that gives this country a bright future was still a reason to get excited.

Then BJ Anthony was ruled out with injury, Steve Adams and Isaac Fotu decided to focus on their studies ahead of their maiden college seasons, and Corey Webster is still serving a suspension for a drug-related violation.

All of a sudden all that was left was star power forward Mika Vukona, a couple of veterans, some emerging players like centres Alex Pledger and Rob Loe, and a just-turned 17-year-old schoolboy named Tai who missed a training session to attend his school formal!

To find out more about that read this great story by Marc Hinton from Farfax.

You can never write off the plucky New Zealanders and their ingenius coach Nenad Vucinic, but progress to the quarter-finals would be an achievement worthy of high praise.

Vucinic summed it up like this: "We made miracles in the past, and this would be a big miracle to make it. Maybe even the biggest achievement ever. But it's still possible, so why not try?"

On the positive side, the extra responsibility for Vukona, Pledger, Loe, Everard Bartlett and Lindsay Tait will be invaluable come the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

Back in the land of Oz and the Boomers team didn't have any real surprises, with the only conjecture being settled when swingman Peter Crawford got the nod ahead of point guard Damian Martin.

While there were few question marks over the make-up of the team, how it will perform is still very much in the air.

The Aussies have enough talent to challenge the mid-level teams, but it's hard to see them scaring the USA, Spain, France and Argentinas of this world.

To scrape into the top eight the coaching staff need to utilise their players' strengths well, and that's what I'll have a quick look at.

Aleks Maric: The big fella from Sydney has a big job filling Andrew Bogut's shoes. In Turkey and last year against New Zealand coach Brett Brown used Maric as a low-post target.

That's not his forte, however, and Aussie fans will be hoping Brown has watched more tape this time around and will make use of his big frame and sure hands in the pick-and-roll situation.

In short bursts diving to the basket for dump offs or offensive boards Maric is a world-class player. Isolated in the low post he is a black hole.

Adam Gibson: The Tasmanian is probably one selection fans have seriously questioned, despite his steady form for country and big year for his club, the Gold Coast Blaze.

Consider this though, three years ago he had 22 points and seven assists against a full-strength Brazil. Last year he had eight points on 3-of-4 shooting and three assists against China, and then 13 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals against Great Britain.

With all three in the Boomers' group, Gibson was never going to miss selection.

The key now is to give Gibbo a task every time he is on the floor. He isn't good enough to ad-lib at international level, but given a job defensively and a straight-forward role offensively he is more than capable.

David Andersen: For the first time in 2010 Andersen showed the toughness required at international level. Perhaps his stint in the NBA hardened him up a bit?

At 32, Andersen is going to be a key player offensively for a team short of scorers.

The 2.12m sharp-shooter's success in European club ball has come from being used in post-ups against smaller power forwards and spreading the floor from deep against bigger centres.

Coach Brown needs to find the right match-ups for Andersen to exploit, and other post-up or driving options who can force opposition centres to collapse and leave Andersen open.

Crawford: PC nailed over 40% of his three-pointers for North Queensland club Townsville this year in the best season of his career.

He then hit 5-of-12 from long range in Australia's first game against China earlier this month, and given the Boomers have shot 30% from behind the arc the past two years that was enough to secure selection.

Despite being 32, Crawford is almost a rookie at FIBA level, and it is crucial he gets looks he is comfortable with.

In Brown's system there is a lot of standing and waiting for jumpers, but that isn't where Crawford is at his best. He needs to catch the ball on the move, where his stroke and footwork approach perfection.

So the teams are set, but the reality is expectations are low in Oceania this year, with a win or two over high-quality opponents enough to satisfy most fans on both sides of the Tasman.

Tournament basketball is a funny thing, however, and the right performance on the right day can get you far.

Australian Boomers: David Andersen (2.12m, forward/centre), David Barlow (2.05m, forward), Aron Baynes (2.07m, forward/centre), Peter Crawford (1.93m, guard/forward), Matthew Dellavedova (1.90m, guard), Adam Gibson (1.88m, guard), Joe Ingles (2.03m, guard/forward), Aleks Maric (2.10m, centre), Patty Mills (1.83m, guard), Brad Newley (1.99m, guard/forward), Matt Nielsen (2.09m, power forward), Mark Worthington (2.02m, forward).

New Zealand Tall Blacks: Hayden Allen (1.92m, shooting guard), Josh Bloxham (1.83m, point guard), Everard Bartlett (1.95m, guard), Casey Frank (2.03m, power forward), Leon Henry (2.00m, small forward), Jarrod Kenny (1.88m, guard), Robert Loe (2.10m, forward/centre), Alex Pledger (2.16m, centre), Lindsay Tait (1.90m, point guard), Jeremiah Trueman (2.05m, power forward), Mika Vukona (1.98m, forward), Tai Webster (1.90m, guard).

Paulo Kennedy from FIBA

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« Reply #5 on: Jun 13, 2012, 05:43:01 AM »

Oceania & Australia Basketball News & Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Australiano

Australian U17 talent Exum has makings of a star

Australia have a budding superstar in the making who will be showcasing his skills at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship. He goes by the name of Dante Exum and actually has a connection to both Andrew Gaze and Michael Jordan.

Exum is an athletic 6ft 4in (1.92m) guard who can do a number of things to help his team win.

The East Melbourne native is the son of former Australian NBL league star Cecil Exum, who actually played with Jordan at the University of North Carolina before going on to have a long career in Australia.

The young talent is also linked to former Australia great Gaze after being part of the Australian Boomers' senior programme last summer as a 15-year-old – eclipsing the mark of Gaze, who was 16 when he first made it on the national men's team.

Exum impressed Boomers boss Brett Brown, who wanted to see how the youngster would hold his own.

“He is highly skilled and he will represent Australia one day,” Brown said last summer.

“It certainly is positive for the program because we feel we have uncovered someone to develop and pay attention to. And he is a long, athletic wing with a high degree of skill. It’s been a real plus for him and for us.”

It’s not that Exum is a stranger to Brown though as he coached his father Cecil.

Still, the Australian coach couldn’t help but notice Exum’s fine approach to the game, saying: “He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know because he is only 15 and comes into the gym without any backing down.”

Exum’s Boomers roommate, former Loyola Marymount playmaker Damian Martin, said: “Another two, three, four years down the track and he’s going to be a solid player amongst this mix. He’s got all the talent in the world already.”

Exum is considered a great kid who is highly coachable and has plenty of charm. He is already a good shooter and his strong work ethic could make him a great one. He also plays superb defense and passes the ball more than most scorers.

Currently on scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), he is learning a number of different playing styles and systems while playing in the Australian second division (ABA) against adults.

All that will help him this summer when he arrives in Lithuania for the FIBA U17 World Championship.

"Dante is a truly exciting, athletic talent with a big future in the game. We’ll be hoping he has a great Worlds," Australia’s U17 coach Guy Molloy told Eye on the Future.

The coach believes Exum’s time with the Boomers last summer will help his confidence.

"I’m sure that was more a glimpse of the future for both Dante and Brett (Brown), but those types of opportunities can be rare and special for a player so young," he explained.

Exum also was a leader for Australia in qualifying for the U17 Worlds averaging 17.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the 2011 FIBA Oceania U16 Championship.

When asked what Exum’s ceiling could be, Molloy said: “Without wanting to place pressure on him, Dante could be anything.”

The player himself is ready to exceed the great success his father had in the game.

“I hope to do even better than him,” Exum said at the Boomers camp last summer.

Considering that Cecil Exum has already played with a legend like Michael Jordan, Dante Exum has set the bar pretty high.

David Hein from FIBA

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« Reply #4 on: Apr 23, 2012, 05:06:13 AM »

Oceania & Australia Basketball News & Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Australiano

Leading from the top

In response to last week’s column ‘A big week Downunder’, a reader called @MoreHoops asked what Basketball Australia (BA) needs from their new CEO.

Great question, one that isn’t easy to answer.

To start I’ll look at some of what I think are BA’s strengths and weaknesses and I suspect my response will emerge from that.

Numbers - When it comes to strengths, it is mentioned over and over again that around one million Australians play basketball. It places it up there with netball and soccer as the most played team sports, and is the most played sport by people under 25.

Guys and girls – when the government and corporate dollar is so keenly contested in tight economic times, having a sport that is so widely played by men and women, boys and girls, and people with a disability is a huge boost. The more groups in the community you serve, the more likely an MP is going to listen.

We’re pretty good – Australia isn’t a basketball powerhouse, but with our junior teams almost always in the top six, our women’s team considered a failure if they don’t medal, our men competitive with most opponents, and our wheelchair teams a constant title threat, BA can make strong claims to governing one of Australia’s elite performing sports.

Our national leagues – the NBL in particular has seen hard times, and has been mocked by many in this country. But the reality is both the WNBL and NBL have world-class players and play an entertaining style. The average attendance at an NBL game is 4,200-4,300 people, and both teams have a decent presence on free-to-air television.

What national teams – In a country where many national sporting teams are national treasures, the Opals and particularly Boomers are barely known anymore. A big issue is the difficulty in getting quality opponents to Australia to showcase the international game, and this winter’s series against Brazil and Greece will be a real litmus test on whether BA can sell its elite teams.

What participants – While it is true basketball has a massive participation base, it seems BA has no way of really utilising is for commercial gain. Some state associations won’t give BA their databases and some local associations won’t give their databases to their state associations!

What youngsters – Too many of the country’s best young male players head to the USA to play college basketball. While a handful of players excel, a number of players seem to get lost in the system.

Where are the pro teams – The NBL has just nine professional teams, and that is a large reason why so many young players end up going to college. In 1996 there were 112 Australians in the league, this year there are 69 despite the fact participation has increased markedly in that time.

The wrap
So what does all that mean? Well obviously a good CEO will capitalise on as many strengths as possible and finds solutions to weaknesses.

But for me it all starts at one point, and that is getting all the sport’s governing associations on the same page.

For the professional side of the game to thrive, clubs need to tap into the local associations. For participation rates to grow rather than stay steady, local associations need the pro game to be attracting kids’ attention.

To attract big-time corporate support BA needs to be able to show they have pro leagues that both attract mainstream media attention and have a pipeline to grassroots participants.

If Basketball Australia doesn’t have access to databases of those who play the sport, it will never reach its potential.

It was once mentioned to me that BA has an excellent insurance set-up that both state and local associations access. If this is true then perhaps it is time to bring out the stick.

Any governing body who won’t join a national database could have their access to this insurance limited or cut out altogether.

After all, if you don’t want to contribute to the national strength of the game, why should you benefit from it?

There has to be some carrot as well. Local associations have grown ambivalent to the plight of professional clubs. They have seen them come and go and got used to going about their business regardless.

It is time to make a successful NBL club good news for the grassroots. Simple things like commission for local associations who sell NBL and/or WNBL memberships, game tickets and merchandise.

Strong links between professional players and associations, in a client management type set-up, is another way of building a stronger relationship.

Basketball can only compete in Australia’s sporting landscape if all its limbs are working together. The problem is it hasn’t really been done before, nor has there been strong leadership to attempt to make it happen. As a result the mention of it is met with suspicious eyes.

That is the number one task I would set out for the new CEO.

Effectively tap into the grassroots and the corporates will come, the professional clubs will grow stronger and the grassroots will benefit from the increased profile.

There is still plenty of work to be done once that is achieved, but work done without it is very unlikely to bear fruit.

If it were an easy task it would have been done before. But without it basketball will never challenge cricket, Australian Rules football and the rugby codes for public interest and corporate investment.

Paulo Kennedy from FIBA

Visit: The eBA Basketball & Statistics Encyclopedia
Posts: 68

« Reply #3 on: Mar 11, 2012, 02:42:52 AM »

Oceania & Australia Basketball News & Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Australiano

DC to power Great Britain ?

You might remember a few weeks back I wrote about the marquee match-up between the New Zealand Breakers and the Perth Wildcats.

Well it was on again last Sunday in Perth, and these teams are so good to watch I took the 4,000-odd kilometre flight across the Nullarbor to see it.

The teams put on another classic, the packed house was thrilled until the end, and Great Britain fans should be too.

A minute into the third quarter with New Zealand trailing by 12 points, I remarked to my counterpart on the press bench that their shooting guard, Daryl Corletto, had taken just one shot.

Moments later Breakers import point guard Cedric Jackson sliced to the basket in trademark style, finding Corletto in the corner who coolly fired off a triple. Splash.

Moments later Jackson escaped in transition off a Perth miss and found his running mate on the wing. Bingo!

The man they call DC was feeling good so he took it inside next possession but missed the mark.

CJ Bruton grabbed the O-board and before you knew it, Corletto was firing his renowned line-ball triple. Bottoms! And Wildcat star import Kevin Lisch mistimed his jump to give DC the ‘and one’.

Free-throw made and it is a two-point game. The crowd at The Jungle - as the Wildcats faithful call their home court - is silent.

Perth small forward Cam Tovey nails a triple to bring them back to life. Bruton responds with a long bomb as he has so many times, but Wildcat captain Shawn Redhage hits one of his own and the place is rocking.

Perth are five in front once again, but Corletto slides into the basket against heavy defence to finish his run and get the Breakers back within a shot.

Twelve points in 3:25 and DC has single-handedly kept his team in the game.

“It was one of those games,” Corletto said.

“The first half I wasn’t getting open, other guys were doing their things … so I just had to stand in the corner and wait my turn.

“The third quarter I got a couple of open threes and I knocked them down.”

That’s what Corletto, 30, has been doing for much of his career, popping up when his team needs him to hit clutch triples or his patented soft floater.

From 2006-2009 he was the ‘microwave’ off the bench for the Melbourne Tigers as they made four straight grand finals and claimed two titles.

This season he moved to New Zealand and is again making shots at all the right moments as the Breakers close in on their second-straight regular-season crown.

What does this have to do with Great Britain?

“Mum and dad were both born over there so I’ve got a British passport,” Corletto revealed.

Does he see himself as a realistic chance of playing at the Olympics?

“They’ve got their camp in April and we’ll still be in the (NBL) Finals so it’s going to be tough. They’ve picked a squad of 22 so we’ll just wait and see.”

Corletto would have already suited up for the ‘Mother Country’ if it weren’t for the Tigers demanding he tour Ireland and China with them instead.

“The funny thing is we actually played against them last year with Melbourne,” he said.

“I got to meet all the coaches and have a bit of a chat. They said they were just going to keep an eye on me.”

With Luol Deng and Joel Freeland sure to attract plenty of attention, having a 41 per cent three-point bomber like Corletto on the bench makes perfect sense.

While he hasn’t experienced international basketball yet, training every day against Bruton, Mika Vukona, Tom Abercrombie, Alex Pledger and Dillon Boucher has him well prepared.

“It’s one of the things I’ve noticed, the training at the Breakers is 10 times harder than it was at Melbourne, the guys compete every day.

“You are going up against the guys who play for the Tall Blacks, then you throw in Cedric who’s probably the best import in the league at the moment. It’s fun to go to training every day.”

So is he picking the Breakers’ veterans’ minds about what to expect in the international game?

“Not really, I am trying not to talk about it,” he said.

“The New Zealand media made a bit of a fuss about it about a month ago and the boys were asking about it. It’s one of those things where I have to just wait and see, so I’m concentrating on the Breakers and playing my role.”

He is doing that to perfection, as last Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash showed.

As for the result? Well Perth looked home leading 87-81 late in the fourth but Jackson nailed a triple and a tough driving basket.

With eight seconds left Breakers import Gary Wilkinson missed a game-tying leaner but who should be there but the relentless Vukona, his athletic tip-in forcing overtime.

In the extra period Bruton stepped up, slicing through traffic in 36-year-old slow motion to dish off three assists in the last 2:41 as New Zealand took a four-point lead.

Redhage then scored five-straight points including a fastbreak three-point play to reclaim the lead for the Wildcats with 62 seconds left.

Wilkinson finished a no-look Bruton dish to steal it back before last-gasp attempts from Redhage and Matt Knight went wide.

It was an amazing game, with many different players making influential plays.

None though, were more important than Corletto’s 12-point run when the game was slipping out of New Zealand’s grasp.

Now, how many national teams wouldn’t want that sort of scoring punch sitting on their bench for a time of need?

Paulo Kennedy from FIBA

Visit: The eBA Basketball Statistics Clinics ONLINE
Posts: 199

« Reply #2 on: Feb 19, 2012, 06:21:20 AM »

Oceania & Australia Basketball News & Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Australiano

Let’s talk about…FIBA Asia-Pacific

This discussion comes up a lot around Olympic time, at the FIBA Basketball World Cup or when the zone qualifiers are being played out.

People, usually from Europe or the Americas, tell me that teams from Asia and particularly Oceania have it too easy, and that there must be a better way to sort qualification.

The latter is certainly a point with merit, but let me quickly deal with the former.

At bi-annual world tournaments since the turn of the century, the number one team from Oceania has on average finished ahead of 4.3 teams from Europe and the Americas.

The second team from Oceania has played in four tournaments in that time and finished in front of an average of 2.5 of those same teams. For the leading team from Asia, the average is two Europe or Americas teams below them.

Based on those figures, it is hard to justify more teams from the two power continents to replace teams from Oceania or Asia.

However, there can be no denying the imbalance of having Oceania, with effectively two teams, as a qualifying zone, when the other four continents play out major championships with 10, 16 or 24 teams.

While both Australia and New Zealand are competitive and respected on the world stage, in the long run it’s not serving anyone’s best interests to keep them isolated Downunder.

The Boomers, Tall Blacks, Opals, Tall Ferns and their junior compatriots don’t get to play in continental championships every two years to hone their tournament-play skills.

This could well be the cause of Australia’s 2-8 record in knockout games across men and women, juniors and seniors from 2009 to 2011.

Having to front up night-after-night - in foreign lands with a wide variety of refs – and face the very different styles of teams like Iran, China, Korea and the Philippines to progress to world tournaments can only be a good thing for Oceania’s powers.

While they might be favoured to finish top three, there will invariably be nights when they are seriously challenged and their basketball lives are on the line.

We saw how that challenge was too much for Iran against Jordan in last year’s FIBA Asia Championship. Australia needs those tough situations.

There are benefits for our northern neighbours too. Asia’s best will get the opportunity to play two additional world-class teams to help them bridge the gap with the top western countries.

There was a clear gap between the haves and have-nots at both Asia’s men’s and women’s championship last year. The tournaments only really came to life in the final days.

Having two more quality teams has obvious benefits of increasing the standard of the top half of the competition, and it would also allow the Asian men’s field to be split in two as it is in the women’s.

This creates better competition for the two zones’ minnows, with the likes of Fiji, Sri Lanka, Thailand & Co able to test themselves against teams of their standard in a B-Division format, and if good enough they can challenge to move up.

This format has not hurt the peripheral teams in Europe, whose marked improvement in recent years has resulted in a very level playing field across the continent.

How long it would take for such a system to bring those results in Asia is anyone’s guess. But what’s certain is basketball is booming on the world’s biggest continent and anything that can be done to capitalise on that should be seriously looked at.

From Australia’s point of view, this opens up Aussie basketball to a massive region it has been trying to crack for some time.

It would also allow the national teams to gain a greater profile back home, something the current lack of meaningful tournaments makes very difficult.

So what are the negatives?

Understandably, Asia’s top teams might feel their Olympic qualification spot could disappear if Australia and New Zealand went one-two at the FIBA Asia-Pacific Championship.

This could be countered by allowing only one downunder team to claim a spot for the first eight years after the merger, or giving this region three places if basketball increases to 16 teams at the Olympics.

There are already five places for Oceania and Asia at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, so nothing need change there.

If Australia’s powers-that-be are worried about losing the current qualification path, I say harden up and look at the big picture.

To me, merging the two continents to form FIBA Asia Pacific is a no-brainer, and the wheels should be set in motion sooner, rather than later.

Paulo Kennedy from FIBA

Visit: The eBA Basketball Statistics System BOOK
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