Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Strange Things Happenin' at the Three-Point Line

There are some strange things going on in the land of Australasian Basketball at the moment. First, you've got the Sydney Spirit almost leaving the NBL, only to be helped out by Andrew Bogut. Then, a week later, the Cairns Taipans get into the same situation. The Taipans situation seemed to come from left field, but it should have been expected really.

The Taipans went downhill so quickly because their main sponsor - Pacific Toyota - was struggling to make money and pulled out. Apparently this clause had been in their contract from the word go. Which makes me think one of two things. Either the relationship between the Taipans and Pacific Toyota was not supposed to be long-term, or somebody at Taipans head office did not get their act together and have a secondary sponsor lined up in case this clause was ever actioned.

The Breakers meanwhile, continue their healthy [heh] relationship with Burger King and their reign at or near the top of the NBL continues unabated. That's all I'll say on them, for reasons I have outlined here.

The New Zealand domestic competition hasn't escaped though. The Otago Nuggets signalled their intention to pull out what seems like donkeys years ago. The situation in Canterbury seemed to be a replica, with the Canterbury Rams not convinced they could make their payments. Along come rumours of a shadow team - Rumours I paid no attention to, at my peril.

Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to the Christchurch Cougars. Besides the obvious Top Gun jokes, the Cougar name is crap. Sure, you wanted a name which featured alliteration, but naming your team after an animal which doesn't even exist in New Zealand? [Note: I'm not sure if there are Cougars at Christchurch's Orana Park.] Why not name them after something in the area? How about the Christchurch Cardinals [the religious type, not the bird, continuing the link with the Crusaders - and a good blog headline for me when Wellington beat them: Saints give Cardinals bloody baptism], Christchurch Kakapo, Christchurch Gondaliers, etc? At least Rams had relevance to the area. The team apparently have eight members already signed up, which is great to hear given how quickly they've set up shop, and hopefully they can give a kickstart to basketball in the South [it can't die if it wasn't really established in the first place - Nelson you're excluded from this statement of course.]

Which leads me to actually talk about our competition. I've been a Wizards/Saints fan for four name changes [other fans will know this is 12 years] and last season was a dream for me. But I noticed at the start of the year that TSB Arena was hardly ever full. Games were usually on a Thursday/Friday. The booze was cheap, plentiful and every seat had a good view. Yet there were still many, many empties. It seemed a lack of promotion was to blame [tickets were cheap as hell]. But the cliche of 'success draws crowds' prevaled. As the season went on and we won more and more matches - and subsequently when Terry Serepisos dipped deeper into his non-Phoenix pocket [the Saints are actually the Century City Saints, the company owned by Serepisos who also owns the Wellington Phoenix, for the uninitiated.] giving a bigger allowance to advertising, the crowd rolled up. The last home match against Waikato was packed and it was great. We just need some of that down south because surely a nine team domestic series shouldn't struggle to draw crowds?

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