Fans In For A Treat As Australian Professional National Basketball League Settles In Singapore For The 1st Time
14 Mar 2006
|Fans In For A Treat As Australian Professional National Basketball League Settles In Singapore For The 1st Time
League to feature Singapore based team for the 1st time backed by Australian private sector led consortium in bid to bring thriving league to Asia
Singapore, 14 March 2006
Come September this year, basketball fans will be in for a treat as they get to watch live professional basketball action from the Australian National Basketball League (NBL) right here on Singapore soil at the Singapore Indoor Stadium (SIS) over the next five years. Sixteen of the annual 33 league matches will be played in Singapore over a season spanning seven months with the remaining games being played in Australia. This was revealed today at a joint press conference held simultaneously in Singapore and Sydney.
In the most significant move in its 28-year history, the NBL will also be including a Singapore based team as of the 2006/07 season. The initiative is spearheaded by an Australian private sector led ownership group, Singapore Basketball Enterprises (SBE), in a bid to bring the thriving Australian NBL to Asia. The Singapore Indoor Stadium will be the home base for the team.
This latest initiative follows hot on the heels of three similar successful basketball events held for the first time in Singapore in 2005 - the NBL matches between Sydney Kings & Perth Wildcats (January 2005) and the Perth Wildcats & Brisbane Bullets (November 2005) as well as the inaugural Singapore Cup (regional title involving league champions from Australia, China, Jordan and Korea, May 2005). These three events attracted a total of more than 6,000 spectators at each event and introduced a new dimension of sports entertainment to basketball fans.
After signing a 5-year hire contract with the venue, the arrival of this new team in Singapore will also mark another regional first. The Singapore Indoor Stadium will be the first venue in Asia to boast a professional basketball team as an anchor tenant. This will mean local fans and visiting supporters can look forward to a complete season of international sports entertainment - complete with season tickets offering court side action and corporate hospitality.
Said SSC CEO Oon Jin Teik: "Today's announcement is yet another significant step in our push to bring basketball fever to the masses in Singapore. For a little more than the price of a movie ticket, Singaporeans will not only be able to catch live world-class basketball action right on home soil, but also be able to participate in a whole new form of sports entertainment that is wholesome and exciting, much like what we see today on TV at NBA basketball matches. In time to come, we hope this event will become another key marquee event in Singapore's ever growing and vibrant sports calendar."
Wee Siew Kim, President of the Basketball Association of Singapore (BAS) added: "The basketball community is very excited with this new initiative. It complements BAS' ongoing programmes to make basketball the 'Team Sport of Choice' in Singapore. To achieve this goal, all three areas of sports excellence, participation and industry must develop in tandem as each feeds on the other. Given the combined marketing and promotional strengths of the NBL and SSC, as well as the proven sports management track record of the people behind SBE, and the high entertainment value of top-level basketball worldwide, we firmly believe that this event will appeal to a mass Singaporean audience. The three similar successful basketball events held for the first time in Singapore in 2005 - the NBL matches between Sydney Kings & Perth Wildcats and the Perth Wildcats & Brisbane Bullets as well as the inaugural Singapore Cup - demonstrated to us that there is keen interest amongst Singaporeans that will fuel the growth of a vibrant basketball sports industry. With the right marketing and positioning, basketball can generate fantastic revenues for teams, players and sponsors."
"This is a truly historic day for the NBL and the Philips Championship," said NBL Commissioner Rick Burton. "For three long years we have been putting in place the necessary preparation and planning to successful seed a team in Asia. I am ecstatic this hard work has come to fruition and we can now take the NBL into a new era where it plays across three countries. Asia is the future for world sport and we are proud to be the first major pro sports league to set up operations in the thriving and cosmopolitan market that is Singapore. "This historic move would not have been possible without the vision of the NBL Board, FIBA, Basketball Australia and the Basketball Association of Singapore and I would like to thank them for their unilateral support of this giant leap forward for our sport."
The ownership group (SBE) of the new team is headed by NBL Hall of Famer Bob Turner, who has been working for some time on the project to find the right partners and brings intimate knowledge of the NBL to the new team.
"The establishment of an NBL team in Singapore is great for the NBL, the city of Singapore and the sport of basketball," said Turner. "The consortium has put considerable time and effort into establishing a sound relationship with the Singapore Sports Council and the 11,000-seat Singapore Indoor Stadium, home of the new team. The group is proud to play its part in such an historic occasion for both Australian and Singaporean sport".
Denise Marsh, General Manager of the Singapore Indoor Stadium, which will be the venue for the matches, said: "The management and staff at SIS have a great deal of experience in providing support for international sports and entertainment events. As the home venue for this new team, we look forward to creating an exciting spectator experience for local sports fans and visiting supporters - providing a firm foundation for the future success of this new sporting venture".
In order to clear the way for the groundbreaking inclusion of an Asian team in the NBL, Basketball Australia (BA) assisted the League in petitioning FIBA Oceania, FIBA Asia and the FIBA international office.
FIBA Oceania Secretary General Steve Smith said the addition of a team in Singapore was truly significant. "There is no doubt that the inclusion of a team in Singapore within the Philips Championship NBL is an historic move for basketball in the region," said Smith. "FIBA Asia and FIBA International have shown great foresight in backing this move and continuing to grow our great game."
Basketball Australia Chief Executive Scott Derwin said the move would help grow basketball in Australia. "Basketball Australia wholeheartedly endorses the move to place a team in Singapore and we believe taking a club into Asia will only serve to help grow our sport locally," said Derwin. "This is a bold move that puts basketball ahead of all other professional sports in Australia."
This latest initiative has also gotten the local basketball community in Singapore excited. Low Jiaren, Singapore's National Men's Team Captain had this to say: "It presents a viable opportunity to play basketball professionally in Singapore and will encourage more talented local players to continue playing competitively after leaving school. With the increased talent base and training support, we will soon be able to compete on equal terms with our neighbouring countries who teams are made up of full-time players."
Added Koh Meng Koon, a Singapore National Men Team Player, "This is certainly a good development which will allow our players to gain an exposure to higher level basketball games. If NBL team takes in 1or 2 players from our National Team, it will definitely encourage more youngsters to fight for a place in the National Team to get that chance to play professionally. This way, the standard of our National Team will definitely improve."
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Singapore Sports Council
The Singapore Sports Council (SSC) is Singapore's lead agency tasked with developing sports in Singapore. Our vision is to create a Sporting Singapore where Sports is a way of life. SSC aims to develop sports champions and create enjoyable sporting experiences for Singapore through the three strategic thrusts of cultivating a sporting culture, achieving sports excellence and creating a vibrant sports industry. Formed on 1 October 1973, SSC is a statutory board under the purview of the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. SSC's address on the worldwide web: www.ssc.gov.sg