NBA stars set to storm Australia to find next generation of talent


Melbourne: Some of the National Basketball Association’s biggest stars will journey to Australia this off-season to impart their skills on the nation’s next batch of promising players.

The NBA, International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) announced on May 3 that the NBA’s illustrious Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Asia programme would stop in Melbourne for a four-day camp in June, reports Xinhua.

Australia’s top basketball prospects born in 1999 will be invited to attend the development camp — a community outreach programme — to learn from a yet-to-be revealed line-up of NBA and FIBA players and coaches.

Over the past decade, Australia has firmed as a rising world basketball power with eight Australian-born players (Joe Ingles, Kyrie Irving, Mathew Dellavedova, Andrew Bogut, Dante Exum, Patty Mills, Aron Baynes and Cameron Bairstow) currently featuring in the NBA.

Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers), Bogut (Golden State Warriors) and Mills (San Antonio Spurs) are all still competing as part of the NBA Playoffs.

Draft nominees Ben Simmons, touted as the likely No.1 pick in June, and Thon Maker could push the number of active Australian NBA players to a record-breaking 10, if both selected next month.

NBA Asia managing director Scott Levy, alongside Utah’s shooting guard-small forward Ingles, was in the Victorian capital to make the announcement, and said the United States-based competition was proud to bring the initiative to Australia for the first time.

“The league has seen a surge of Australian talent in recent years, and we look forward to supporting the next generation by giving them a platform to showcase their skills alongside their peers from throughout the region,” Levy told reporters at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre on May 3.

Over its 15-year history, BWB has toured 130 countries and unearthed 37 NBA players.

As of opening-night of this season, 21 former BWB graduates were on NBA rosters.

It is unclear which Australians — and other NBA players — will return home for the June 23 to 27 event.

Many of Australia’ s NBA stars have committed to play at the Rio Olympics in August as the Boomers go in search of their first male basketball Olympic medal. (IANS)