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Basketball's Tassie takeover


Basketball boss Larry Kestelman is making no secret of his ambition to make the sport Tasmania's number 1 activity, displacing football codes. 

It's prompting the question of whether it's time for another sport to give the AFL a scare here. 

Decades-long efforts to secure the state its own AFL team have borne no fruit, league bosses apparently banking on the continuation of fervent support here, regardless of how shabbily the state is treated.

That's while strip-mining the Tasmanian taxpayer for revenue for a couple of Melbourne clubs to play second-string matches. 

Tourism pundits were appalled when possibly the worst Tasmanian fixture on record was announced for 2020; only the pandemic has spared the state from shelling out $8.5 million on a grab-bag of Fremantle, Port Adelaide and Gold Coast leftovers.

Adding insult to injury, there were no Friday or Saturday night matches and no free-to-air action scheduled. 

In stark contrast, after a few months of negotiation with the State Government, Mr Kestelman is delivering Tasmania an NBL franchise which will hit the DEC and Silverdome courts from October next year.

The search for a team name is now officially underway, Tasmanians encouraged to have their say at nbltas.com.au. 

Speaking on Tasmania Talks, Kestelman says basketball can offer young Tasmanians a career pathway potentially stretching to big-time leagues like the NBA.

"We're going to be the main sport in Tasmania represented on the national scale," he told Aaron Stevens.

"It's a sport on the rise globally and very much in Australia, so that's our intent...making sure that the kids in Tassie get a chance to become professionals, that's a big part of the mission for this club." 

As far as a name for the new team goes, there's no room for any parochial north-south bickering. 

"You will see this team up and about all over the state and represented at grassroots at all different levels of the sport," said Mr Kestelman. 

"It's more than just Australia, this brand is going to go globally all around the world and act as an ambassador for the state of Tasmania and the people who live in it, so we really want the name to represent the proud people of Tasmania." 

The Tasmanian Government is apparently on board with basketball's bid to capture young hearts and minds, Sport and Recreation Minister Jane Howlett announcing more money for the three NBL1 clubs on Thursday. 

"We will provide funding of $250,000 to the clubs ($105,000 to the Hobart Chargers, $85,000 to the Launceston Tornadoes and $55,000 to the North West Thunder, with $5,000 to be retained by Basketball Tasmania) for the 2020-21 financial year," she said. 

"Since the initiative began in 2017, our Government has provided a total of $750,000 to the three clubs, allowing them to engage with communities by delivering school basketball clinics around Tasmania."

Matt Dellavedova is one of several Aussies who've gone all the way to the NBA, now earning close to US$10 million a year (Wikipedia)