The National Basketball League (NBL) has partnered with the Tasmanian Government to host a four-day pre-season tournament that could be the first step towards Tasmania claiming the 10th franchise of the NBL.
The $300,000 investment from the government has allowed Hungry Jack’s NBL Owner and Executive Chairman, Larry Kestelman, to spread the games across Tasmania, giving fans an opportunity to meet players as part of a range of community activities around the state.
The move is apart of Kestleman’s plans to test out interest of the state returning to the NBL competition for the first time since the licence of the now-defunct Hobart Tassie Devils was revoked in 1996 over financial issues.
“We encourage every Tasmanian to register their support there because we need as much support to make it happen,” Kestelman said about the launch of the new www.nbltas.com.au website.
“Tasmania is a great sporting state and we want basketball to be its number one sport, that’s why we’ve expressed a strong interest in establishing a 10th NBL team in Tasmania that will represent the whole state and we think the NBL Blitz is a great opportunity to showcase the league.
“My timeline was to try and make it happen – not for this coming season, but the following,” Kestelman said.
“So that’s a pretty tough timeline and that’s the only thing that I am working on now, but I think that will be challenging as knowing how much work is needed.”
Justin Hickey, the owner of the Southern Huskies, had pushed for the Tasmanian based basketball team to enter the NBL sooner rather than later, but after a South East Melbourne Phoenix bid was preferred, the Huskies signed a five-year deal to join the New Zealand league until further NBL expansion.
Kestelman is currently negotiating a deal with Glenorchy City Council to buy the Derwent Entertainment Centre and if he can pull off the “jigsaw puzzle”, it could very well seal a Tasmanian NBL deal.
Larry Kestelman made the announcement with Tasmanian Acting Premier and Minister for Sport and Recreation, Jeremy Rockliff, and Australian basketball legend, Andrew Gaze, in Hobart.
The popular pre-season event will get underway from September 19-22.