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NBL Blitz strikes Gold!


THE NBL’s annual preseason Blitz tournament has struck Gold with this year’s event to be shared by Ballarat and Bendigo in regional Victoria's famous goldfields.

Partnering the Victorian Government, the NBL’s biggest names will strut their stuff in Bendigo on Thursday, September 20 before the series shifts to Ballarat’s Minerdome for games on Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23.

Each session will feature all eight NBL teams under one roof, the only annual opportunity to see every team in one place.

Always a quality WNBL-standard facility, Bendigo’s stadium has undergone a $23million redevelopment, partly why Basketball Australia decided to stage next month’s FIBA World Cup Asian Zone qualifying match between the Boomers and Kazakhstan at the venue.

Tonight, Melbourne United hosts Andrew Bogut (below) and the Sydney Kings at Bendigo.

The stadium will host four Blitz games, the marquee matchup of the day a revisit of the 2017-18 NBL Grand Final between Melbourne United and Adelaide 36ers, who took all five matches to decide the championship.

On Saturday the series shifts to Ballarat and the ever-popular Minerdome, both cities also hosting a range of community activities featuring NBL stars, including clinics, game-day events with 3X3, wheelchair and Indigenous basketball.

There also will be free entry to the day session games on Day 1 in Bendigo.

“I’m delighted to see our investment in regional stadiums is delivering for centres like Bendigo and Ballarat,” Minister for Tourism and Major Events, John Eren, said.

“We’ve locked in the upcoming Boomers v Kazakhstan FIBA World Cup Qualifier and now the NBL Blitz and what better way to inspire more young people to hit the hoops?”

NBL teams already are organising their own preseason games in addition to the Blitz and ahead of seven matches against NBA opponents.

REVISIT: Nathan Sobey and Chris Goulding in action during the 2017-18 Grand Final series.

But the Blitz is unique in allowing fans to see every team in one place ahead of the season tip-off.

Bogut and the new-look Kings will draw great attention but how perennial powerhouse Perth shapes up also will lead to much chin-stroking.

United has two of its championship imports back in Casper Ware and Josh Boone while free agents Tai Wesley and Majok Majok now will be wearing Breakers' black.

Mitch Creek leaves on Saturday for his NBA shot with Brooklyn Nets so how new 36ers' import Jacob Wiley fills the breach and if Adris De Leon is as efficient as in his previous NBL stint will seize the focus of Adelaide fans.

Mike Kelly's debut as head coach at Cairns sees him bring a fascinating new team into play, with only Alex Loughton, Nate Jawai and Kuany Kuany back from past Taipans glories.

Similarly in Wollongong, Rob Beveridge has assembled the "Redemption Hawks" and they look as entertaining as ever, Cedric Jackson, Brian Conklin and Jordair Jett all back for another NBL shot.

Adding 418-game NBA veteran Alonzo Gee (below), 31 and 198cm, to the Brisbane lineup makes them also appear formidable, especially with Cam Bairstow back.

Internationals such as Mika Vukona, Cam Gliddon, Jason Cadee, Matt Hodgson and Makoto Hiejima  give the Bullets the most firepower since their return to NBL action two seasons back.

“We are very excited to once again bring the NBL Blitz to Victorian regional communities,” NBL chief executive Jeremy Loeliger said.

“I want to thank the Victorian Government for its support through its Significant Sporting Events Program and Regional Events Fund and we look forward to seeing fans come from far and wide to enjoy some world class basketball.

“The NBL Blitz will lead into the next round of NBL x NBA games in the USA starting on September 28 and then the start of the 2018-19 Hungry Jack’s NBL Season on October 11 in what is a very exciting time for Australian basketball.”

2018 NBL Blitz Schedule 
Day 1 Bendigo Stadium, Thursday, September 20
11am, Illawarra Hawks v Brisbane Bullets
1pm, New Zealand Breakers v Perth Wildcats
5.30pm, Melbourne United v Adelaide 36ers
7.30pm, Sydney Kings v Cairns Taipans

Day 2 Ballarat Minerdome, Saturday, September 22
1pm, Cairns Taipans v Perth Wildcats
3pm, Sydney Kings v Adelaide 36ers
5:30pm, Illawarra Hawks v New Zealand Breakers
7:30pm, Melbourne United v Brisbane Bullets

Day 3 Ballarat Minerdome, Sunday, September 23
11am, New Zealand Breakers v Cairns Taipans
1pm, Brisbane Bullets v Sydney Kings
3.30pm, Adelaide 36ers v Perth Wildcats
5.30pm, Melbourne United v Illawarra Hawks

For tickets or more information about the NBL Blitz in Bendigo and Ballarat, head to www.nbl.com.au/blitz

Aug 30

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