As one of the top Australian 3X3 event organisers, Champions League Basketball has continued to quietly build momentum for the third year of its CLB3X3 national circuit by announcing the latest foundation team, the Southern Bobcats.
Based on the Mornington Peninsula in Melbourne, the Bobcats will feature a bevvy of recognisable former NBL and WNBL stars who also boast international FIBA 3x3 experience, joining the Townsville Suns, Hobart Devils and most recently the University of Sunshine Coast’s USC RIP3X3 as a foundation CLB3X3 club in the Elite division.
Bobcats CEO Darren Mahoney-Walsh is excited about what the new team means for the fast-paced form of the sport in the Mornington Peninsula region.
"From our perspective, it was a good opportunity to become involved in a national competition," shared Mahoney-Walsh.
"We are introducing 3X3 to the community down here, on a Friday night...and it has been well received by the kids and their parents. We are a fairly large, established club down here in Franskton, and for us [getting involved] is about a new revolution of basketball, and we are now the only club in Melbourne that have taken this up and giving it a go."
Frankston Blues SEABL star Rob Linton will lead the Bobcats' men's team along with former NBL player and current Blues teammate Bennie Lewis, 2017 FIBA3x3 Asian Cup bronze medalist and current Dandenong Rangers SEABL player Lucas Barker, and Geelong Supercats forward Liam McInerney, forming the core quartet of their first side.
The Bobcats women will see even more talent on display, with former WNBL player and current Waverley Falcons Big V star Kelly Bowen taking the lead, gaining commitments from former WNBL stars Sam Woosnam and 2017 FIBA3x3 Asian gold medalist Chantel Perera.
Mahoney-Walsh explained that both Linton and Bowen were ideal choices to be the inaugural ambassadors for the Bobcats and the CLB3X3 circuit, with their connection to the local community and passion for the sport second to none.
"They are both very good people and really good ambassadors for the sport. Kelly is a well-known legend down here at Frankston, and Rob has really established himself down here at Frankston over the past year. They are both part of the fabric now which is great."
Returning to Frankston in 2018 after a stint with the Southern Tigers in the 2017 South Australian Premier League, Linton was excited about the opportunity playing regular 3X3 basketball presents after having seen first hand the benefits of SEABL rivals Tom Wright and Andrew Steel and their on-court success for Nunawading but also on the global FIBA 3X3 stage.
"3x3 is just such a great sport, so when this opportunity came up I jumped at the chance," explained Linton.
"Guys like Tom [Wright] have benefited from playing both forms of the game. I just wanted to push myself to a new level and improve on my game, and CLB3X3 will provide that opportunity to play at an elite level."
It was a sentiment shared by Bowen, who explained she had played a little bit previously, and had really enjoyed the different format.
"It is such a fast-paced, exciting game," explained Bowen. "I really enjoyed playing it and look forward to the challenge ahead. I have been assembling a very good team too, with Sam [Woosnam] and Chantel Perera already on board. We are going to have a really competitive team."
Perera's 2017 FIBA3x3 Asian Cup teammate Carlie Smith -- previously the number 1 ranked female 3X3 player in Australia -- is a foundation player for the USC Rip 3X3, with the club recently announcing additions to a talented men's lineup. Former NBL player Lance Hurdle links with QBL star duo Eric McAlister and Tommy Ammar (Logan Thunder) to assemble a star-studded debut squad.
Champions League Basketball General Manager Matt Hollard was excited about the addition of their latest CLB3X3 club, explaining they had a record schedule lined up for the Australian summer while also recently signing a new deal with Wilson Basketball.
"It is fantastic to have the Bobcats join as the latest CLB3X3 Elite club," enthused Hollard. "We have over 30 events planned for the Summer, with our season launch planned for 5th October at South Wharf. Some of Australia's best players will be there, along with the best team from New Zealand.
"We have received phenomenal support from DFO South Wharf, Wilson Parking and popular venue Melbourne Public, which is owned by AFL media personality Luke Darcy, and we will be and will be live streaming all the Elite games of our launch event thanks to Live Sport Australia."
Hollard would further explain that CLB had also secured a new deal with Wilson Basketball, cementing their relationship for the foreseeable future.
"Wilson Basketball have been great supporters of CLB3X3, and as part of extending our relationship, we now also have our own ball! We have many more announcements to come, and we are looking forward to a huge season ahead."
Steven Lonsing, Commercial Manager for Wilson Basketball shared Hollard's enthusiasm.
"The team at CLB are very passionate about 3X3 in Australia and Wilson are looking forward to continuing their partnership and supporting the continued growth of 3X3," added Lonsing.
Catering to all ages, levels and abilities, CLB3X3 is set to continue fostering the growth of 3X3 basketball in Australia from the grassroots up.
For the full schedule of events, visit clb3x3.com.au.