Illawarra Hawks general manager Mat Campbell says establishing a nest in Canberra will secure the club's long-term future in a deal that will strengthen the region's development pathways.
Illawarra have now ticked the first box as they look to lock in a long-term deal to play games in Canberra and strengthen the capital's development pathways, as the NBL takes a leaf out of the AFL playbook.
Campbell moved to assure Hawks fans a deal with Canberra was not a step towards relocating the foundation club, but a chance to secure its long-term future and "strengthen our development pathways".
Campbell says establishing a "mutually beneficial relationship with Basketball ACT" will bolster the region's pathway for elite basketballers, as was the case for new Hawks recruit Marshall Nelson, who signed with Illawarra via a stint with the Canberra Gunners.
"Taking an NBL preseason game to Canberra is a fantastic opportunity for the Hawks to expand our foot print and connect with basketball fans across the southern part of NSW and the ACT," Campbell said on the Hawks' website.
"We are actively expanding the Hawks footprint and widening our reach for supporters, members and corporate possibilities as we try to grow our club.
"As the only remaining foundation club it is important we explore opportunities to ensure we are still competing in the NBL in years to come."
Illawarra's foray into Canberra will help fill the void left by the Canberra Cannons after the club went bust in 2003.
Friday, September 14: Illawarra Hawks v Adelaide 36ers at Tuggeranong Basketball Stadium, 7.30pm.