Tue, Sep 4, 10:38am by Head Editor
Australia’s National Basketball League is set to expand next season, with a South-East Melbourne franchise set to become the league’s ninth team in 2019-2020.
Sunday’s announcement comes two months after the NBL stated that Romie Chaudhari, co-owner of English Championship soccer team Swansea City, had been awarded the ninth licence.
The winning bid was backed by both the local council, Knox City, and the state Government who have pledged $82 million towards the expansion of the State Basketball Centre if they are re-elected.
Knox City Council has also committed $25 million to the expansion project which is located in Wantirna South and will house the new NBL side once construction is complete.
The team will play two home games at the new centre while the rest of its home fixtures will be played at Melbourne Arena in the city’s famous sporting precinct.
NBL Chief Executive Jeremy Loeliger said in a statement on the NBL website “we said when we granted the licence for a ninth team that its location would depend on having access to first class training, administrative and playing facilities. The investment in the State Basketball Centre and Melbourne Arena makes South East Melbourne the ideal location for the next NBL team.”
Current NBL Champions Melbourne United will share their arena with the new team and their preparations to defend their title hit a hurdle on Saturday night, when they lost 93-85 to the Andrew Bogut led Sydney Kings.
Bogut finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds, which is the type of form that has given punters reason to back his team into a $3.60 joint favourite alongside Melbourne to lift the trophy in March.
United and the Kings will be joined by last season’s runners-up, the Adelaide 36ers, the New Zealand Breakers and the third favourite, the Perth Wildcats for the NBL x NBA series that begins on September 28 in Philadelphia.
The Ben Simmons led Philadelphia 76ers will host Melbourne United to open the seven game pre-season series that is a huge coup for the game in Australia.
Alongside the 76ers, the other NBA clubs involved in the series are the Utah Jazz, the LA Clippers, the Phoenix Suns, the Denver Nuggets and the team who topped the NBA Eastern Conference standings after the regular season, the Toronto Raptors.
Melbourne United $3.60
Sydney Kings $3.60
Perth Wildcats $6
Brisbane Bullets $8
Adelaide 36ers $9
New Zealand Breakers $10
Illawarra Hawks $12
Cairns Taipans $15
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