A bold new winter league is about to kickstart Australian basketball, and attempt to reconnect fans with basketball at the elite level.
'Champions League Basketball' (CLB) is set to commence in the winter of 2017. Eight teams located in major markets across Australia and New Zealand will play an exciting, fast-paced brand of basketball over ten weeks, with two weeks of finals action. The competition also aims to implement a strategy of sustained growth, and will look to expand the league to 12 teams by 2019, including a footprint in Asia.
Co-founded by general manager Matthew Hollard, the mentioned development of a new league has been two years in the making. Hollard, who has previously been involved with former NBL teams (Victoria Titans, Victoria Giants and South Dragons), has assembled an executive and advisory team featuring a blend of sporting and business experts headlined by current and former Australian Boomers, including Chris Anstey, Jason Smith and current NBA star Joe Ingles.
CLB Executive Team (R-L): Yvette Hollard, Matt Hollard, Jason Smith, Andrew Ede & Jon Shepherd
“Champions League Basketball has from day one been nothing but transparent and genuine in its formation and execution, and I have personally made it my mission to speak to as many of the key officials, management and players as I could," outlined Hollard.
"This has come out of sheer respect and necessity and we will continue communicating and assisting with the current basketball associations and competitions currently in place.”
CLB is not envisioned as being a competitor to the NBL, but rather a new league to complement the summer offering. Planning is well advanced, with Hollard and his team expecting to announce major sponsors in October 2015 along with the ﬁrst three foundation clubs; a lightning tournament will be scheduled for May 2016. CLB is currently engaged in discussions with potential team owners, and Hollard is confident that his brainchild will undoubtedly come to fruition.
A host of modified rules are set to be introduced in order to deliver what is promised to be a high-tempo, high-flying and high-scoring competition. We can expect 'money-ball power-plays', where made baskets are worth an extra point. Another initiative, titled 'Every Quarter Counts' will provide championship points to the team winning each quarter of the game, and teams that hit the 100-point mark will be awarded bonus points, giving a marked emphasis on keeping the game alive right up to the final buzzer. The NBA's illegal defense principles will also be adopted in a further attempt to help open up the game, promote highlight reel plays and increase scoring.
The timing of the season allows Australia and New Zealand’s best players to return to play after their European campaigns have ended, while also providing an opportunity for uncontracted NBA-level talent and those playing in Asia. Teams will build their rosters via an Australian-first CLB Player Draft, ensuring an even spread of talent alongside a ‘soft’ salary cap, enabling marquee player recruitment. ‘Luxury tax’ dispersals will contribute to player salary equity across the league and facilitate financial stability.
Fans can expect games to be scheduled every Wednesday night and Sunday afternoons to avoid junior competitions where possible, with 21 regular season games and finals played between the top 4 teams. With games to be spread across Australasia and 4 time zones, there is a distinct possibility of triple-header game broadcasts via an anticipated TV deal, yet also via a planned subscription via an online platform.
“I love the concept that Champions League Basketball has created," shared former NBA player Chris Anstey.
"A new league that sits alongside the NBL and embraces its fans from the first point of execution is definitely onto a winning formula."
Like Anstey, former NBL star Lanard Copeland is also excited by the prospect of the new and exiting proposed league.
“I think this new league, CLB, is fantastic for the sport," expressed Copeland.
"It will provide fans of basketball year round and provide young and up and coming Australians another opportunity to make it as a professional player.”
Skeptics among the basketball community will naturally be wary of the promise a new league holds. The growing wave of support from behind the scenes however, comprises a who’s who of established individuals in Australian business and basketball. Rest assured, Hollard has most definitely put CLB in a position to succeed
The catch-cry is short, sharp and lucrative. One can only hope that CLB can achieve their goals of revolutionizing Australian basketball.