BENDIGO will be home of the Women’s National Basketball League pre-season tournament for the next two seasons.
Basketball Australia and the City of Greater Bendigo announced the two-year deal on Thursday.
With the women’s FIBA World Championships pushing the starting date of the WNBL season back to mid-October this year, the eight WNBL clubs will converge on Bendigo from October 10-12 to battle for the Wattle Valley WNBL Spring Shield.
Each club will play three games over the three-day tournament.
“This is huge for the Bendigo Spirit and Bendigo basketball,’’ Spirit coach Bernie Harrower said.
“To have all the clubs in Bendigo at one time is going to be sensational.
“From the Spirit’s point of view it’s great that we don’t have to travel and our fans get to watch us at home.
“Having every team here playing three games each means basketball fans will get a great look at what the league is going to be like this season.”
Opals squad players, including Lauren Jackson (Canberra), Liz Cambage (Dandenong) and Belinda Snell (Bendigo), will be at the pre-season tournament but their playing minutes could be determined by how far the Opals go in the previous week’s world championships in Turkey.
“This year’s pre-season tournament is only one week before the regular season starts, so the clubs will probably be looking to be as close to full-strength as possible,’’ Harrower said.
“It will be their last chance to work on things before the season starts.”
City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Cr Barry Lyons said the tournament is another major sporting coup for the Greater Bendigo region.
“We are delighted to host this event at the Bendigo Stadium for the next two seasons because it’s good for sport, great for tourism and fantastic for our local community.
“Bendigo Stadium is the home of basketball in our city and is one of regional Victoria’s premier venues for major events and a stadium to be proud of.
“The City of Greater Bendigo is working hard to attract significant major events and today’s announcement adds to the long list of major sporting events we have secured in recent times.”