Wednesday, 18 July 2012
The demise of the Gold Coast has left two basketball legends deeply concerned about the NBL which will start this season with the equal smallest number of teams in its chequered history.
The withdrawal of the Blaze due to financial difficulties means the league is set to start on October 5 with just eight teams, equalling the low set in the 2009-10 competition.
A draw for the new season will be released on Friday and is still expected to comprise 24 rounds.
But it is a far cry from the NBL's halcyon days back in the mid 1980s when there were as many as 17 teams.
"I don't know the ripple effect of what this setback will cause, but it is a tremendous blow for the fans mostly and for also the credibility of our league," Sydney Kings senior vice-president and former top point guard Steve Carfino said.
Andrew Gaze, one of Australia's greatest players, had sympathy for the Gold Coast owners, but said the club was not sustainable in its current state.
"It's less opportunity for players. It's certainly not great for the competition, so it's really disappointing," Gaze said.
He emphasised it was not all gloom and doom around the NBL, with attendances, television and online audiences all increasing last season.
"There are a lot of positives but, clearly, it's a significant setback," Gaze said.
Acting Basketball Australia (BA) chief executive Scott Derwin said he believed the main problem for the Blaze was meeting the NBL's required bank guarantee of $1 million for the coming season.
Derwin said the Blaze were not able to substantiate details of an unidentified "mystery fan" who was allegedly prepared to supply the $500,000 working capital requirements of the NBL.
He said BA was looking for each of the remaining NBL clubs to come up with the $1 million guarantee stipulated in their licence.
Derwin said it wouldn't be easy for them but didn't anticipate any other team dropping put of the competition.
"We've been in constant discussions with all the teams since the end of last season and we don't have any reason to believe that the other eight teams won't be there next season," Derwin said.
Derwin was disappointed that south-east Queensland was no longer represented in the NBL, but said efforts would go into accelerating the return of a Brisbane team.
"We've got every hope that 2013-14, we'll get a team back there," Derwin said.