Australian-born Utah Jazz players Dante Exum and Joe Ingles will face teams from their home country during an NBA preseason game.
Larry Kestelman, executive director of the National Basketball League in Australia, spoke about the idea (via Daily Telegraph):
“We are one of the few leagues in the world that can actually challenge their teams and put up a good fight. It’s either us or a few of the Euro League teams and that’s about it. There is no other competition in the world that would have the standard of play that would be any serious challenge to an NBA club.”
The Sydney Kings will play the Jazz on October 2 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Utah. The Melbourne United will play the Thunder at Oklahoma City on October 8 and the Brisbane Bullets will play the Suns in Phoenix on October 13.
Ingles used to play in the NBL before he got an opportunity in the United States. Similarly, Spurs point guard Patty Mills also played overseas in the NBL.
The Jazz forward called it “massive” for Australian basketball (via NBA.com):
“As an Aussie who began my career in the NBL and now entering my fourth season with Utah, I am very proud of the growth of the game in my home country and can’t wait for the Jazz and Salt Lake City to play host to Sydney this fall.”
Last season, 13-year NBA veteran Steve Blake played for Sydney. The 37-year-old point guard was teammates with 7-year NBA veteran Josh Powell. Blake announced he would not return for this season while Powell now plays in Venezuela.
The NBL, meanwhile, is vying for an NBA game played in Australia for 2019.