The Winx effect that brings the throngs to Randwick made an appearance in the NBL, although it is hard to attribute the NBL’s record setting first round entirely to Andrew Bogut.
The previous record dated to 1995, so something is afoot.
Almost 50,000 turned out to watch first round action with the prize for largest crowd being claimed by the Perth Wildcats at Perth Stadium, with attendance of around 12,800.
The Sydney Kings, Bogie’s new club, drew almost 11,000 and in so doing became the third highest figure ever for the team.
“On behalf of the NBL I want to thank fans for coming out in such huge numbers for the first seven games of our season.” NBL CEO, Jeremy Loeliger said. “It’s a testament to the loyalty and passion of our fans but also the great entertainment provided by our teams and players. We also saw a record opening round crowd in Sydney of 10,761 to witness Andrew Bogut’s NBL debut, 12,583 fans turn out in Perth to see the Wildcats play Illawarra and 8,329 watch Melbourne play New Zealand. Following record attendances last season we believe this will be our biggest season yet and invite everyone to come along and enjoy the world class basketball and entertainment on offer around Australia and New Zealand.”
Loeliger gave the very impression of the cat in the catbird seat preparing to dine on canary, but he has every right to be, more so if the NBL manages to maintain the high numbers needed in order to persuade quality players to join the league.
The Adelaide 36ers were not cowed by the presence of Bogut and they handed the Kings a 94 – 83 loss, which does supply a positive omen that the NBL has been successful in its attempts to provide a product that basketball fans accustomed to watching the NBA can appreciate.
NBL teams acquitted themselves admirably in pre-season exhibitions played in Hawaii against NBA teams and while they did not win any of the games, they did not collapse from intimidation, either.