NBL All-Australian Team vs China Series Preview
The NBL All-Australian team has landed in China for a three-game series against the Chinese national men's team, backing this concept up from a successful campaign last year.
With the NBL front-office bound to tap into the Asian and, more specifically Chinese market, these games are of utmost importance to get eyeballs onto the Australian basketball landscape.
In saying that, the NBL's 'All-Australian' team --a name which was branded last year-- has seen some changes which puts an asterisk on the travelling side, as Adelaide import and reigning league MVP Jerome Randle and Brisbane Bullets import Jeremy Kendle join the team (although Mickell Gladness was a late call up in last year's).
Asia's love of basketball is well-known within the Australian basketball world, with the NBL reporting over 30 million people tuned in to watch last year's series, plus more than 18,000 people attending at one of the fixtures.
Team Australia won last year's inaugural series between these two sides with a 2-1 victory, despite it being somewhat of a slog. With the Australian team coming together at short notice, scores of 49-57, 72-64 and 76-65 were a significant decrease on what fans witnessed throughout the NBL in season 2015/16, and could once again prove to be the case with coach Rob Beveridge not getting much time to allow the team to gel.
“We meet at the airport on Sunday, (Jerome) Randle’s flying in from Chicago and we’ll meet him there, and Lucas Walker’s got to stay up in Queensland to play a QBL game so he won’t get there until Monday night," Beveridge recently told nbl.com.au.
With that said, don't expect much to come out of game one, especially if you're not ready for the onslaught of one-sided refereeing, something which was constant in last year's series.
So, what do we expect from these upcoming three games?
JEROME RANDLE TO SHOW US WHAT WE'RE ABOUT TO MISS OUT ON
Randle and the Sixers are a fair way apart in terms of contract negotiations, according to reports, so it's become highly unlikely that we see him back in the NBL this coming season. Embed from Getty Images
With Bevo already declaring that there won't be a whole lot of structure and with the players he has at his arsenal, it looks at though Randle will have freedom with the ball in his hands.
Jerome will dazzle the Chinese crowd as his energy will lift the Aussies tempo, showing us one final time what we're about to lose, and miss. *sad face*
WHAT HAPPENS ON THE COURT, STAYS ON THE COURT
Speaking of Randle, it's interesting to see him play under Rob Beveridge for the first time, a coach who he called out for his team being too physical on the basketball court. Embed from Getty Images
"Fight first, play basketball second" were Randle's direct words towards Bevo's Illawarra Hawks players when they were matched up in a semi-final bout during last season's playoffs.
With Randle now teaming up with Beveridge and centre Nick Kay, team harmony will be intact as many will know - what happens on the court, stays on the court.
TODD BLANCHFIELD IS READY TO BREAK OUT AGAIN
Blanch was a 'future Boomer-in-waiting' when playing under Shawn Dennis and the now-defunct Townsville Crocodiles. Funnily enough, some of his best performances came against a Melbourne side who must have been fed up with him being on the opposing team and signed him for two years. Embed from Getty Images
Unfortunately in that time, Blanchfield's development has been stuck in the corner taking a lot of stationary threes under United's stacked rosters.
Now in Sydney, Blanchfield will firmly put his name forward during this series to be a player to watch through season 2017/18 at the Kings. In a free-flowing team, 'Vinnie' will relish taking on the Chinese national team and create a lot of excitement for Sydney fans for the upcoming season.
Mitch McCarron (Cairns Taipans) Lucas Walker (Perth Wildcats) Jesse Wagstaff (Perth Wildcats) Nick Kay (Illawarra Hawks) Todd Blanchfield (Sydney Kings) Daniel Kickert (Brisbane Bullets) Tom Jervis (Brisbane Bullets) Jeremy Kendle (Brisbane Bullets) Jerome Randle (Adelaide 36ers) David Barlow (Melbourne United)
Head Coach: Rob Beveridge (Illawarra Hawks) Assistant Coach: Mick Downer (Brisbane Bullets)
Game 1 – July 5th at 9:30pm AEST [TV: Fox Sports 1]
Game 2 – July 7th at 9:30pm AEST [TV: Fox Sports 3]
Game 3 – July 9th at 9:30pm AEST [TV: Fox Sports 3]