NBL's path to success runs through China

This week, an NBL All-Australian team will jet out to China and tackle the Chinese national team in a three-game series in what is yet another major coup for the rejuvenated national league.

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Season 2015/16 of the NBL can only be branded as a success for the league and Aussie hoops as a whole, with many waiting with baited breath to see where the sport would go in season 2016/17 and beyond.

The Brisbane Bullets will be back for the upcoming season, which was always going to be a major boost for the competition, before news of the Townsville Crocodiles withdrawing from the competition put a dampener on festivities.

However, the upcoming series in China is one of the biggest shots in the arm the league has received in recent times, helping to pave the way for growth in Asia.

The potential gains from a move into Asia are, put simply, enormous, and that the league is looking to breach that market is a very smart business decision and a sign of the NBL’s stable growth.

There are more than 1.3 billion people living in China, and a deal that will see the games broadcast on Chinese TV channel CCTV5 has the potential to reach as many as 1.2 billion people.

That is, potentially, over a billion people tuning in to see some of the NBL’s finest Australian-based players plying their trade against China’s best in what will hopefully be an entertaining and hard-fought series.

The games will also be broadcast on Fox Sports in Australia, keeping the locals happy as well.

To illustrate the potential, AFL club Port Adelaide are venturing into China in a bid to grow the game, with a recent clash being broadcast in China to an audience of over two million people.

That figure topped the number of people who tuned in from Australia, despite being a very foreign sport to the Asian country.

Imagine what basketball, already one of the biggest sports in Asia, can do.

While China is target number one, countries like the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia also have very strong basketball followings and could become valuable assets to the NBL.

Successfully growing the game will obviously be of great financial gain to the NBL, with the money in basketball in China alone much greater than what could ever be achieved by staying in Australia.

Just ask Aussie superstars Patty Mills and Liz Cambage, who each reportedly earned seven figure pay checks for stints in the Chinese national league in recent years.

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Changes to the salary cap and way teams can build rosters, allowing for an Asian-based marquee player alongside three imports, up from two, if a club so chooses, is also going to strengthen ties between Australian basketball and basketball Asia.

While no official announcements about Asian-based licenses competing in the NBL have been delivered to date, the intentions of the league’s powerbrokers are looking increasingly clearer.

The possibilities are endless should a move into the Asian market be successful, with a boost in fans, viewers, and of course financial gain for the league all there for the taking.