NBL expansion on cards as Blitz returns to Gold Coast

NBL officials will test basketball fans’ appetite for an expansion team on the Gold Coast when the pre-season Blitz tournament returns to the city in September.

Gold Coast has had two previous stints in the league – as the Cougars and Rollers (1990-1996) and Blaze (2007-2012).

It is considered one of the leading candidates for future expansion as the NBL looks to grow beyond the current 10 teams.

The league on Tuesday announced the Blitz will return to the Gold Coast from September 7-14, following a successful tournament in the city last year.

“The Blitz provides the growing and passionate participation base here on the Coast another chance to vote with their feet and show their appetite for more permanent NBL content on the Gold Coast,” NBL chief operating officer Vince Crivelli said.

“We are excited to continue our journey with all our partners and stakeholders on the development of basketball in the Gold Coast region.

“We are committed to maximising the potential of the NBL in the city and will keep evolving our conversations with the relevant stakeholders.”

Last year’s Blitz was hailed as the NBL’s best ever, drawing scouts from 27 NBA teams.

It is hoped the tournament will generate similar interest this year, with NBA draft prospects set to be in action.

They include Spanish teenager Izan Almansa, who has signed with Perth Wildcats under the Next Stars program for the 2024-25 season.

Brisbane Bullets centre Rocco Zikarsky is a projected first-round draft pick, while Sydney Kings forward Alex Toohey is also on the radar.

“It can’t be underestimated how important the Blitz is for the global basketball market particularly the NBA teams in their planning and preparation for the 2025 draft cycle,” Crivelli said.

“The Next Stars program is as strong as ever, and the Blitz gives NBA teams a chance to assess the incredible talent in the program.”

Blitz games in September will be played at both the Carrara Indoor Sports Stadium and Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre.

The winner of the Blitz is awarded the Loggins-Bruton Cup, which was claimed by Melbourne United last year.

The regular-season starts on September 19 when Melbourne and the Tasmania JackJumpers renew hostilities after last season’s epic Championship Series.

The season opener is part of a full round in Perth – dubbed “HoopsFest” – to kick off the new campaign.


Shayne Hope
(Australian Associated Press)


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