In exciting news for basketball fans in Australia, the NBL, in conjunction with the NBA and FIBA have this morning announced Basketball Without Borders will be coming to Victoria next month.
Basketball Without Borders, an NBA and FIBA joint initiative, aims to 'unite young basketball players to promote the sport and encourage positive social change in the areas of education, health, and wellness.'
This landmark announcement, which will see the event being held June 23-26 at Dandenong Basketball Stadium and also at Geelong Arena, further strengthens the ties between Australia and the NBA. With seven Australians currently in the NBA, including Joe Ingles who was at the announcement today, it is clear the NBA is serious about Australia as a basketball nation.
Larry Kestelman, Gabrielle Williams, John Eren, Joe Ingles and Jeremy Loeliger at today's press conference
The Basketball Without Borders camp will see 40 of the most talented male players born in 1999 from across the Asia-Pacific partake in the event, with past and present coaches and players from the NBL and NBA coaching the youngsters. The camp will also include the top female players in Victoria and a Jr. NBA camp for youth in the local area.
Three days of the camp will be held at the Dandenong Basketball Stadium, and the final day will see an All-Star game held at Geelong Arena.
John Eren, Minister for Sport in Victoria, outlined the importance of the camp being held in Victoria.
"Basketball in Victoria is in the midst of a golden era. Our own stars are dominating the NBA like never before, and here's our chance to identify the next generation of champions."
With events of this magnitude being held in Australia, it makes the NBA and the dream of playing NBA more accessible than ever for Australian basketball players.
Joe Ingles has noticed the strides being taken by Australian players, and the fact that the NBA doesn't seem so far away for Australians any more. "I think [Andrew] Bogut obviously opened up the door after the guys before him and then what Patty and Delly did, the hustle and the energy that they brought opened it up even more for Australians."
My first year over there I was 27, and it was a dream, obviously it's a reality now."
Inlges continued, "I think when I was growing up it was so far away that all I wanted to do was play in the NBL. Now it's becoming a reality with the most Australians we've ever had playing over there."
NBL Executive Director Larry Kestelman reiterated the importance of continuing to grow the partnership between the NBL and the NBA.
"They [NBA] are showing a lot of trust and they've seen how we've acted through the NBL and we've been able to achieve a professional level of basketball, showing leadership in the community."
Kestelman continued, "We're absolutely a multi-cultural country and that's what they love about what we do here in Australia. They want to support us and this is the first step in that direction."
Kestelman was adamant that an NBA game in Australia isn't too far away. "That is definitely on the roadmap. The NBA is very supportive of the idea of partnering with us to do that. It is more a question of when, not if any more."
Keep your eyes peeled for more information about the camp along with announcements of coaches and players that will be attending in the coming weeks.