Basketball Australia will today announce that the 2019 US ‘Dream Team’ will play the Australian Boomers in a two-game series at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium on August 22 and 24 ahead as a lead in to the 2019 FIBA World Cup that tips off on August 31 in China.
In details revealed by Peter Rolfe of the Herald Sun, Basketball Australia and the Victorian state government have been secretly working behind the scenes on delivering the massive coup, resulting in the best players from the USA heading to Australia for the first time since the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Basketball Australia CEO Anthony Moore said this would be the biggest stand alone event in Australian sports history.
“This announcement is a landmark moment for Basketball Australia and all fans of our great game,’’ he said. “I believe this event will be long remembered in Australian sporting history.’’
The last time Australia and the USA met was at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, a game in which the American’s prevailed in a narrow result. With Australia’s prominence in the NBA and on the world stage growing following a 4th placing at that event, the games in Melbourne could well be a dress rehearsal for gold in China.
In Melbourne, USA could be expected to feature NBA stars such as LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and more. The Boomers will be looking to assemble their increasing number of NBA stars too, with Ben Simmons, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum, Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova and Aron Baynes all likely to feature.
The announcement comes following the NBL’s fruitless attempts to bring NBA games down under, and this development could well provide the launching pad for more NBA-level events in future. NBL owner Larry Kestelman explained it was even better than an NBA game coming to Australia.
“This is bigger than any NBA game, this is the combination of every best player in the USA coming here to play Australia,’’ he said.
“I think we’ve stepped a couple of steps and gone straight to the bonanza of basketball. This is the holy grail.’’
According to the Herald Sun report, organisers will deliver a purpose-built court flown in, with the 55,000 capacity stadium re-configured with state-of-the-art screens and seating. With 2 games set to be played, more than 100,000 fans will have the opportunity to watch in person both the US and Australian NBA-stars in action in Australia.
The report indicates that the basketball court will sit on top of Etihad Stadium’s Australian Rules Football (AFL) playing surface, with jumbo-sized screens set up around the venue, and thousands of additional seats added at ground level.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was understandably enthusiastic about being able to bring such a massive event to Melbourne.
“This is the one Australian basketball fans have been waiting for, and there’s no better place to host the USA team than the sporting capital of the country — Victoria,’’ he said.
USA Basketball chief executive Jim Tooley was excited about seeing two of the best basketball nations in the world take on each other in preparing for the FIBA World Cup which will start a week later in China.
“We expect these games in 2019 will again showcase international basketball at its highest level and offer sports fans a very memorable event,’’ he said.
According to Rolph, the two-game series will include a week-long celebration of basketball in Melbourne, with the players conducting children’s clinics and making appearances all around Melbourne. It will also coincide with an expected government announcement of a business case to build up to 10 additional courts at the State Basketball Centre in Knox. It would allegedly include a National Centre of Excellence and administration hub for basketball bodies in Australia.
The announcement comes after Basketball Australia were originally considering a bid for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, a prospect that ultimately fizzled out.
Victoria was the birthplace of Australian NBA stars Ben Simmons, Matthew Dellavedova, Andrew Bogut and Dante Exum, while US representative Kyrie Irving was also born in Melbourne.
Fans can register for tickets to the games via this link once it goes live HERE.
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