It's less than a month before the 2019 FIBA World Cup tips off in China. The event is arguably the biggest basketball tournament since the 2016 Rio Olympics, but the biggest brand in Australian hoops is still without a naming rights sponsor.
No disrespect to their female counterpart Opals, the Australian Boomers are the biggest brand in Aussie hoops. They boast some of Australia's best --and highest paid-- athletes who play in the NBA, which is without a doubt the most respected and recognised basketball league in the world.
Hark back to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, and the Boomers were the hottest ticket on Australian television screens, out-rating all other sports. They would go agonisingly close to a first ever men's basketball Olympic medal, one bad call away from defeating a Spanish team loaded with NBA stars.
Patty Mills, Joe Ingles and Matthew Dellavedova headline a team of homegrown stars who are also down to earth and genuinely good guys. They are marketable too.
Mills has starred in across a number of HEB commercials, while Ingles has dabbled in some of his own, including for Zions Bank. Dellavedova has also been the face of PEAK Sport Australia with his 'Delly' brand and shoes, but also Spalding and Sanitarium, and is also the local Aussie Hoops ambassador along with Lauren Jackson. They are not alone either, and all have been outstanding representatives for Australia on the international stage. Why have Australian companies not caught on yet? Who does not love Patty, Joe or Delly down under?
The NBL has continued on its upward trajectory, with growing crowd numbers and growing free to air television exposure. With games against NBA teams in the preseason, and the NBL stars mixing it with their European and NBA-based compatriots in playing home and away Asian qualifiers for the World Cup, exposure to the Boomers program has never been greater.
Why is it that the Boomers still do not have a naming rights sponsor?
In 2018, Basketball Australia announced Chemist Warehouse as the naming rights sponsor for both the Opals and WNBL (and six other women's programs) in a massive coup for women's basketball. While the Opals have been a perennial success in winning medals on the international stage across the best part of three decades - including silver at the 2018 World Cup - the WNBL has struggled financially despite the talent on display. It was only last season that the sport returned to television screens via Fox Sports and SBS Australia, and two teams narrowly survived to the end of the season.
Basketball Australia has obviously faced challenges in harnessing the commercial value of its assets. When Larry Kestelman's NBL was named as commercial rights partner for the governing body of the sport in May earlier this year, optimism remained high for a turnaround.
As we approach 3 months since the deal was announced, there has been no new deal announced for any Basketball Australia assets. That includes the star-studded Australian Boomers, who are taking aim at winning a first ever medal at the World Cup in China - Australia's largest international trade partner - in front of a global audience.
When asked for comment, a spokesperson for the NBL advised that progress was being made in securing commercial partners for Basketball Australia's suite of brands and programs.
"We only recently acquired the commercial rights from Basketball Australia. There are a number of positive ongoing discussions with some of Australia’s leading brands and we expect there will be significant interest in the Boomers and other programs including Aussie Hoops as Australian basketball continues to grow.”
Basketball Australia on the other hand, have yet to provide a response at time of publishing, when reached for comment.
Ben Simmons or not, the Australian Boomers have a realistic chance at winning a medal in China. They also play warm up games against Canada in Perth and two games against the USA at the 55,000 seat capacity Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, all of which will be broadcast live on Fox Sports and SBS Viceland in Australia.
It's hard to ignore the hype and global media attention if the Boomers won a game (or even two!) against the USA in the lead up to the World Cup, even if the US are without their top-line NBA All-Star players, and the potential brand awareness opportunities that lie in wait for a sponsor.
It's time to get on board the Boomers train, and for an Australian or global corporate brand to get behind them. Get it done, NBL and Basketball Australia.