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Bibby claims there's little respect for WNBL

Date

Jon Tuxworth

Jess Bibby has blasted Basketball Australia.

Jess Bibby has blasted Basketball Australia. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Canberra Capitals skipper Jess Bibby has launched an extraordinary broadside at Basketball Australia, accusing it of placing greater priority on the NBL than the WNBL.

In a frank and honest interview, Bibby said the sport's governing body has become complacent with its promotion of the women's game in Australia.

A 17-year veteran of the league, Bibby described Basketball Australia's decision to prohibit the Capitals from live streaming their home games as ''one of the more baffling things I've seen''.

After the Capitals live streamed their first home match of the season against Bulleen, Basketball Australia shut it down, citing poor quality and a concern it could harm future negotiations with potential broadcasters.

''They can say all they like and be all positive in the media, but you just have a look at the Caps trying to do a great thing and live stream games, promote the game and have it more accessible, and Basketball Australia shuts it down,'' Bibby said.

''When it happened I thought it would be a one-week thing, that surely they're going to realise it's a wonderful thing the Caps are trying to do and they'll reinstate it.

''Obviously that hasn't happened, that just goes to show that's where women's basketball really stands.

''It just goes to show the care factor really isn't there, they're not interested in getting this league to the best it possibly can be.

''They've got it to a standard where they're prepared to say, 'Things are fine, we'll just leave it as they are'.

''They're not interested in getting it out there to a wider audience, promoting it and taking it to the next level.''

Bibby said the controversial decision would have been scrutinised further had Lauren Jackson been fit to play for Canberra this season.

The Capitals fielded inquiries from Jackson's WNBA club Seattle, hoping to broadcast the live stream on its website. ''They're lucky Lauren has been injured, because if she was playing it would have been a massive, massive misfire from them,'' Bibby said.

''American players would get a look at the league, ex-Caps playing in Europe would all have teammates watching, it's that snowball effect which hasn't been given an opportunity to take place.

''The majority of the Olympic team is playing in the league this year. You just shake your head and wonder what are they really thinking?

''What's wrong with the Caps live streaming a game and [broadcast partner] ABC showing another game?

''The NBL gets live TV and we can't even get one club trying to live stream games. We're still stuck in the dark ages a fair bit.

''How is it affecting their brand? It's one of the more baffling things I've seen.''

Bibby revealed WNBL players no longer have access to the Virgin lounge on road trips, a privilege enjoyed by NBL clubs for years.

''It's a tiny, trivial little thing, but it just goes to show [at] Basketball Australia the WNBL isn't considered as highly as the NBL is,'' she said.

''About three years ago we had it for one season, the boys have had it for as long as I know.

''We're not asking for a million dollars, we're just asking for our game to be exposed to as many people as possible, to get more people interested in the league and game at a grassroots level, and we travel … as comfortably as possible to ensure we're prepared to represent the league the best way possible.

''We get issued one polo shirt and a tracksuit [for each player, each season]. We've had to go and pay to organise for some of our own gear, and even then we're not allowed to wear it at official things because it doesn't have official sponsors on it.''

The Virgin lounge situation revives memories of the uproar when Fairfax Media revealed the men's national side the Boomers flew business class to the London Olympics, while the women's side, the Opals, ranked No.2 in the world, flew economy.

Basketball Australia has since changed its travelling policy to make it more equitable.

''It's really disappointing and it does make you angry,'' Bibby said. ''You live in a society where our Prime Minister's female, for crying out loud.

''I went overseas to [WNBA club] New York to get that taste of being a professional, it would be nice if we could get it in our own backyard.''

■ THE Canberra Capitals slumped to a ninth straight defeat after succumbing to Adelaide Lightning 98-67 at Adelaide Arena on Friday night. The Capitals conclude their road trip with a visit to West Coast Waves on Saturday night.

AT A GLANCE

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 98 (L Hodges 17, A Lewis 15, S Batkovic 14) bt CANBERRA CAPITALS 67 (J Bibby 15, C Samuels 13, B Ardossi 12).

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