BENDIGO has scored a basketball coup with the city to host a FIBA World Cup qualifier involving the Australian Boomers.
The September 17 clash against Kazakhstan will be the first international game to be hosted at the newly upgraded Bendigo Stadium, which was opened in May.
It will form part of the second phase of qualifying for the Boomers following their highly controversial match against the Philippines in Bulacan, which was abandoned after 13 players were ejected.
Sanctions to both teams and federations were handed down this week, with three Boomers - Daniel Kickert (five games), Thon Maker (three) and Chris Goulding (one) - handed suspensions from FIBA for unsportsmanlike behaviour.
While no announcements have been made about the squad to play Kazakhstan, Bendigo basketball officials are excited at the prospect of a potential homecoming for Maryborough’s favourite son and former Bendigo Braves junior Matthew Dellavedova.
Bendigo Stadium Limited general manager of sport Ben Harvey viewed a potential appearance from the Milwaukee Bucks star as the icing on the cake of a watershed day for Bendigo basketball and the city’s new $22-million stadium redevelopment.
“How good would it be for him to come back and play in a venue he’s very familiar with, but obviously with a great new arena,” he said.
“We are just so fortunate this new stadium is such world-class that we are in the box-seat for so many exciting events going forward.
“To have the Boomers here is unbelievable; we’ll have no problem packing out 4000 seats.
“Knowing we can bring international games here involving many sports – not just basketball – is surreal.”
The FIBA World Cup qualifier is the second major sporting event to be announced for Bendigo Stadium in September.
A professional boxing showcase, headlined by Tim Tszyu – the son of Australian boxing legend Kosta Tsyzu –has been booked for September 3.
The Bendigo coup comes four months after the state government secured an exclusive series between the Boomers and the USA dream team in August next year at Etihad Stadium.
Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards predicted the September 17 qualifier would have strong economic spin-offs for Bendigo.
“This will draw so many people to Bendigo, not just to see our fantastic stadium and international basketballers, and bring investment to our shops and motels,” she said.
“I think (Australia v Kazakhstan)is just the start of it; when you think of the pipeline of events we have already had into Bendigo over the last couple, with this stadium, there is only going to be a bigger pipeline into the future.”
Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan praised Basketball Australia for backing Bendigo Stadium as the host venue.
“To be able to have the world’s best come and play here in Bendigo is tremendously exciting and it really backs in why the big money was put into this stadium,” she said.
“Bendigo Stadium is our region’s flagship venue for national and international indoor sports and I could not be more thrilled to see the stadium host its first international match.”
Tickets for the World Cup qualifier will be available through Ticketek from noon on Wednesday, July 25.