Phoenix set to launch rebirth of NBL in South East Melbourne

Yesterday, the NBL's newest team unveiled their colours and brand to an excited crowd at the State Basketball Centre.

Tommy Greer, the inaugural GM for the Phoenix spoke at the launch and explained how they came to the name "Phoenix" and what it meant to the South East of Melbourne.

“When we announced the team we asked the fans to give us their suggestions for a name. We received hundreds of names but eventually chose Phoenix, a name that represents the rebirth of basketball in South East Melbourne,” he said.

“Not only do we think it’s a strong name, but we have chosen colours that will make a bold statement and help unite fans across South East Melbourne when we enter the NBL next season.”

With cross town rivals Melbourne United attempting capture the whole of Melbourne's hearts, it is clear that the direction this ball club is going in. They have appointed United assistant Simon Mitchell to lead the team into next season who has strong links with Knox and Frankston ball clubs.

There were also representatives in the crowd from Nunawading, Casey and Knox Basketball associations in the crowd watching in support.

The idea seems to be simple, if you live in Melbourne's South East, the Phoenix are your team.

Ultimately teams such as the South East Melbourne Magic and South Dragons have been pushed to the past. The Phoenix want to be something that lasts and gains the support from across the whole region.

They will be sporting a unique look for their inaugural season, highlighted by laser green, which is an eye-catching statement of colour utilising the Phoenix as a modern symbol of rising out of the ashes into this new phase of the NBL.

NBL Chief Executive Jeremy Loeliger addressed the crowd: “This is an exciting moment as we welcome South East Melbourne Phoenix to the NBL.

“Melbourne’s south east has long been the stronghold of basketball participation in Australia with about 100,000 of Victoria’s 240,000 total registered participants and it has a rich history in elite and community basketball.

“Melbourne United now has a strong foothold in the market, having won the NBL Championship last season and attracting sell-out crowds at Melbourne Arena. The time is right for the introduction of a second team in Melbourne and to rebuild the NBL rivalries that the city was known for in the 80s and 90s.”

Deputy Premier James Merlino, a vocal supporter of local sport and a major player in the construction of the State Basketball Centre, re-iterated the Labour Governments pre-election pledge.

"This is the heart of basketball in this country. There are more registered basketballers than any where else in the country here. We are committing $126m to the grassroots. With 10 extra courts at State and an upgrade of Melbourne Arena. State will be the training base"

On social media on Friday night, the new name and logo was seemingly leaked. For some fans, the name seemed too close to former top level Australian netball team Melbourne Phoenix, who played between 1997 and 2007. While local soccer fans have seen the Wellington Phoenix represent the A-League for over 10 years now.

With the name, logo and brand now launched, Greer and the Phoenix challenges of building a roster lie ahead of them. With a lot of local talent untouchable until the end of the season Greer will have his work cut out.

The club will now move on to sponsors, staff and members to sign. The Phoenix have much to do before preseason training begins next winter.