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Bogut key to NBL record chase

THE NBL is hoping to smash its all-time attendance record for an opening round of 48,007 set in 1995 when it tips off on October 11, NBA champion Andrew Bogut headlining its 2018-19 season.

The 23-year-old record is in plenty of danger too with Bogut’s Sydney Kings hosting Adelaide 36ers at Qudos Bank Arena on October 13 in a Round One which tips off with the Sixers hosting arch rival Perth Wildcats at Titanium Security Arena on October 11.

Both the 36ers and Wildcats will be coming into that clash off preseason games against the NBA's Utah Jazz, with Perth also playing against Denver Nuggets.

Revamped, refurbished and rejuvenated Brisbane Bullets open their home NBL season with a Queensland derby clash against Mike Kelly’s new Cairns Taipans outfit and defending champion Melbourne United opens on the road to a new-look Illawarra Hawks at WIN Entertainment Centre on October 12.

United also hosts New Zealand Breakers at Hisense Arena on October 14 after the Breakers open the season on October 11 at home against former coach Andrej Lemanis and his Bullets.

Illawarra is away to the Wildcats to complete a full opening round which should give the record a thorough shake.

“With Andrew Bogut returning and a free agency period which saw a number of players move teams, we are confident we will break the record,” NBL chief executive officer Jeremy Loeliger said.

The league released its draw today with highlights including the first-ever Melbourne Cup Eve game – a successful fixture trend started by the WNBL’s Melbourne Boomers and Dandenong Rangers – featuring United hosting Bogut and the Kings at Hisense Arena on Monday, November 5.

Adelaide 36ers, who were the guests for the original “open air” game on Boxing Day in Melbourne against South East Melbourne Magic 20 years ago, return to that fixture against United on December 26 in a Grand Final revisit.

MELBOURNE V ADELAIDE: The roof is open for a United Boxing Day fixture.

Successful New Year’s Eve fixtures in Wollongong and Cairns continue with Illawarra hosting Brisbane and the Taipans entertaining Perth in one of the biggest games on the Cairns Convention Centre calendar.

The Australia Day weekend features more prominently in this season’s fixturing, with eight games including Sydney hosting Perth at Qudos Bank Arena on January 27 and Adelaide revisiting the Grand Final again at Titanium Security Arena against Melbourne on January 28.

Sunday games have gone from 32 to 35 as the NBL looks to cater more for families, and New Zealand will host four regional games.

Tip-off is on Thursday, October 11, the season start put back a week to accommodate NBL clubs playing seven preseason fixtures in the US and Canada against NBA teams.

United faces the Aussie-infused Ben Simmons-Jonah Bolden led Philadelphia 76ers in Philly on September 28, then head north to challenge Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors on October 5.

Perth Wildcats are away to Joe Ingles and Dante Exum at Utah Jazz on September 29, then Denver Nuggets on October 5.

NEW YEAR FOR CAIRNS: Coach Mike Kelly and his new-look Taipans on the track.

Sydney Kings play the Los Angeles Clippers in Honolulu on September 30 and New Zealand Breakers head to Phoenix to tackle the Suns on October 3.

Adelaide 36ers also take their shot at Utah, meeting the Jazz in Salt Lake City on October 5.

“This is a very exciting time for the NBL and Australian basketball,” Loeliger said.

“The game is enjoying enormous momentum and we think the NBL is the second best league in the world after the NBA.

“We are committed to offering a world-class entertainment product fans can enjoy whether they are watching in stadium or on broadcast.”

While fans of Euroleague will roll their eyes at Loeliger’s “second best league in the world” remark, there is no doubt with so many NBA preseason fixtures, the NBL’s standing in the world vastly has improved.

The league again also will recess for two FIBA World Cup Qualifying windows.

BOOMERS BREAK: Perth's Angus Brandt in action for Australia against Iran last year.

The first is between November 26 and December 4 when the Boomers will host Iran (on November 30) and Qatar (on December 3) with both games at Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena.

The Boomers will be on the road in the NBL’s second window between February 18 and 26.

The full NBL draw is here.

Jul 25

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