NBL and NBA players speak to the media during an NBL Media Opportunity at Cruise Bar on August 1, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.

NBA to Australia takes big step forward

The Sydney Kings, Melbourne United and Brisbane Bullets will head to the United States in October to take on some of the NBA biggest stars during the league’s pre-season.

In a huge boost for basketball and relations between the two codes, the Kings will open proceedings as they face Joe Ingles’ and Dante Exum’s Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City on October 2 (October 3 AEST).

On October 8 (October 9 AEST), Melbourne United will get one of the first looks at the NBA’s newest high-profile duo as Russell Westbrook, Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder play host at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The Phoenix Suns will then host the Brisbane Bullets on October 13 (October 14 AEST) at Talking Stick Resort Arena with the Bullets able to get a look at the league’s fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft, Josh Jackson.

“This is a huge moment for Australian basketball,” NBL managing director Larry Kestelman told reporters on Tuesday.

“For the NBL to be able to play some of the biggest teams in the world shows how far our league has come. I want to thank the NBA for this exciting opportunity to showcase the NBL on the world stage.

“For our teams to be chosen to come and play in the NBA preseason is a great endorsement of the NBL and Australian basketball.”

With the NBL tipping off on October 5, it will throw the scheduling into a little bit of chaos, however the benefits of the trip are immeasurable.

“We are excited for the NBL to participate in the 2017 NBA preseason,” the NBA’s Asia Managing Director Scott Levy added.

“Australia has proven to be a basketball powerhouse with a growing number of its players making their mark in the NBA and on the global stage. Australia remains one of our largest international markets for merchandise sales and NBA LEAGUE PASS, and these games mark a milestone moment for our two leagues.”

“This is massive for Australian basketball and an exciting opportunity for NBA and NBL players to compete together on the same floor,” Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles told reporters.

“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.”

Ingles went on to urge players to seize the opportunity of playing abroad, saying you don’t know what could come of it.

“These guys have got a huge opportunity to play this game, and you just never know what a good game for them can do. If (Chris) Goulding goes out and has 30 (points), you don’t know what that could mean for his career.

“I wish I had gotten the opportunity when I was playing in the NBL, to do this as an 18-year-old,” he said.

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