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NBL to bring back the All Stars

Date

Jon Pierik

THE rebuilding of basketball continues apace, this time with the National Basketball League reinstating the popular All-Star game.

While a venue has yet to be named, Basketball Australia chairman Kristina Keneally yesterday said the game, featuring the league's best 20 players, would be the marquee event of a three-day program between December 21 and 23. The All-Star game was last held in 2007, when the Aussie All-Stars team defeated the World All Stars.

Former Melbourne Tigers championship captain Chris Anstey, who recently returned to the club as the director of basketball, welcomed the move.

''I like it as long as it's treated right by the players and it's not treated as a holiday,'' he said. ''I think as long as it showcases the best 20 players in the country … then it is a fantastic thing.

''I would love to see the slam-dunk contest back, I would love to see the three-point shoot-out back and all those activities involved in it, so it's just not a game, it's an event.''

Supporters will also be given a chance to determine the make-up of the event.

''We believe the time is now right to reintroduce the All-Star game to the NBL calendar, and the groundswell of support from the fans has been overwhelming,'' Keneally said.

''An All-Stars event is something that is synonymous with basketball internationally, and we are determined to develop the event into not just a single game but a total celebration of our great sport.''

All-Star games were popular in the 1990s when imports Lanard Copeland, Dwayne McClain and Leon Trimmingham and locally born stars Andrew Gaze, Mark Bradtke and Shane Heal were crowd favourites.

Keneally and her board have been proactive in recent months. A revised deal with broadcaster Network Ten will allow for a live game on a Sunday, while submissions for a second team in Melbourne and a reborn Brisbane Bullets were denied. Commercialising the NBL remains paramount.

BA is also searching for a new chief executive.

The NBL has also released its free-agent list, as the Tigers begin reshaping their roster. The Tigers have only Tommy Greer, Liam Rush, Ron Dorsey and Lucas Walker under contract.

Bennie Lewis and Matthew Burston have been offered new deals. Forward Cameron Tragardh has joined Cairns, while Daniel Dillon has joined Gold Coast.

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