Sunday, March 25, 2018

2018 Aussie Basketball Tour: Notes from Cairns and Brisbane

Queensland rocks!
My tour of the NBL cities continued north to Queensland, watching games in Cairns and Brisbane respectively. It'd be the only time on this tour I remained on the road between rounds and my first visit to Australia's Top End. With Cairns being a backpacker haven and entering into the Australia Day weekend, I figured this might be a pretty festive roadtrip.

Both Queensland arenas are held in Convention Centres which gives the game day experience an unconventional sporting feel. Seats were generally wider and the venues were more modern and felt less lived-in.

We the North.
The Queensland teams were largely playing for pride as they resided in the lower half of the standings. The Cairns Taipans couldn't afford a single loss if it stood any chance of squeezing into the playoffs. The Brisbane Bullets were looking to snap their losing streak and build forward momentum for the following season. I've provided good mojo for all my NBA Home Games thus far, going 12-1 with largely underdog victories. I hoped to continue the trend with this NBL tour.

Adelaide and Illawarra beat perennial finalists Perth and New Zealand by a margin of 11 to tip off my tour. The Queensland slate of games was going to be a real test for the 30HomeGames effect. The Bullets in the midst of a 7 game losing streak were set to face a surging Adelaide 36ers, winners of their last 7. It's actually heightened my emotions for game day being fully invested in a home victory.

Fan engagement.
For the Brisbane game I was joined by a Bullets fan from the 'Australian NBL Fans' facebook page. He provided great insight into the rising talent on the team and we mingled on the arena floor after the game as fans got autographs on one end or shot around on the other. In my dozens of arena experiences, I've never seen a court accessible for fans to play on after a game. Felt surreal.

The Taipans have a great culture of supporters being a small market franchise. Taipans fans were greeted to a drumming performance by 'Drum Mugendai' to go with the usual pre-game activities. I'm hoping to return to Queensland for the Commonwealth Games beginning in April. Two former NBL cities in Townsville [Crocodiles] and the Gold Coast [Rollers] will be hosting the basketball alongside Cairns.

The 2018 Australian Tour (NBL and FIBA)
Round 15, Jan 20: CNS def. NZB (81 - 71
Round 16, Jan 27: BNE def. ILL (95 - 90) 
In the end my Queensland trip was more subdued than expected. Though it rained my entire time in Cairns, it was great finally experiencing the natural beauty of Australia's Top End. I only visited the Daintree Rainforest but one day hope to add the Great Barrier Reef. Of the NBL cities, I was most impressed by Brisbane. Definitely an underrated capital. I was in town for the Invasion Day and Australia Day activities and got to watch Weezer and the Foo Fighters at the fabled Suncorp Stadium. I'll be back Queensland, hopefully sooner rather than later.

- Follow my daily snapshots on the @30HomeGames Instagram and hashtag #30HGoztour
- Check my tour notes from Wollongong and Adelaide
- Check my tour notes from Cairns and Brisbane
- Check my tour notes from Perth and Auckland
- Check my tour notes from my week in Melbourne