(Australian men basketball team. Picture from: sports.sohu.com)
In 2014 world basketball ranking, Australian men basketball team could be No.11. To a country which only has 21 million people, this ranking is relatively good. Here are some reasons why Australian basketball could be successful recent years.
Firstly, Australians established their basketball style. Australians don’t have their own basketball culture, they learn from European basketball and follow the trend of world’s basketball, then forming their particular basketball style–quick and physical confrontation. Even in the international matches, many countries’ basketball players complained that they cannot get used to the tough of Australians.
Australian basketball players are generally strong and tall, different from most Chinese, their upper limbs are more developed than lower limbs. So the physical confrontation is very intense and has become the significant feature of Australian basketball. Brian Goorjian, the coach of Sydney Kings, said “ The style of Australian basketball is ‘defense’ and ‘quick attack’, focusing on teamwork.”
Josh, A referee of ABA league said “In this level’s league, ‘hand check’ is controlled strictly, but ‘body push’ is encouraged. This is connected with world’s basketball feature.” Australian basketball usually use “joint defense”. It means that if one player try to breakthrough, then two or three players would converging attack. Without enough ability of physical confrontation, basketball players would be easy to be injured.
(A senior basketball team of high school in sydney is training. Photo by: Dong Huichuan)
In the offense, Australian basketball players more focus on teamwork, not like Americans. American basketball emphasis individualistic heroism. Even some Australian basketball stars such as Luc Longly, the ex-captain of Australian men basketball team, don’t rely on their abilities in the matches. In the Semi-final of A grade this year, Longly’s team verse Shark’s team. After the third quarter, Longly’s team was 8 points behind. In this situation, Longly did not keep the ball and rely on himself, he still passed the ball and covered for their teammates. In the last minute, his teammate Tom got his pass and shot a three-point ball, help their team overtook.
Secondly, the perfect system of Australian basketball leagues is another important reason. The feature of Australian basketball leagues is that Top-level league back feed the secondary leagues, which promote the development of Australian basic-level basketball.
NBL is the Top-level men basketball league of Australia, there are 7 Australian teams and 1 Zelanian team for now. It is divided into regular season and playoff , which played from annual October to March of next year. Moreover, there are 6 secondary leagues in Australia, including Big V, Premier League, QBL, Waratah League, SEABL, SBL. They are semi-professional leagues.
(In March 6th, 2015, NBL Grand Final Game 1: Breakers snatch first win. Picture from: http://www.nbl.com.au/article/id/z0x6pkd1p17015afmrps0at6s)
Some clubs of NBL would subsidize their state’s secondary leagues, so that excellent players from secondary leagues could be selected by them preferentially. “ The secondary leagues would hold a ‘Australian Basketball Clubs Champion’ every year, all good teams from different districts will participate in it.” said Slan, an Australian basketball journalist. The attendance of these matches could be hundreds people.
These semi-professional leagues run as formal as NBL. Slan pointed out, “Big V has good mass base in Victoria. Although it is a business league, the news story collecting and editing and website establishing are all done by volunteers.” Every season they will announce the profit and loss account on website.
(Oct,2012-Nov,2013 Big V Profit & Loss, picture from: http://www.bigv.com.au )
“Although Australian basketball players’ income are not pretty high, this operational system provide them chances to improve the ability. If they are good enough and work hard, they can go to America, Europe or China to play and earn much more.” according to Slan.
Thirdly, the special Australian youth basketball team is one of the reasons. Australian youth basketball team in the Australian Institute of Sport(AIS) is very different from other countries’ youth teams, which could represents the feature of Australian sports.
“Because Australia doesn’t have so many universities and basketball players like America, we cannot organize competitions like North America’s NCAA.” according to Jane, the media and communications manager of Basketball Australia(BA). “Many Australian youngsters choose American universities for playing basketball in NCAA, then AIS gives them a good chance to do the professional training before that.”
Districts’ youth clubs would send excellent players to AIS. Some good youth players don’t want to go into professional leagues too early, then they go to the AIS and regard it as a springboard to play in NCAA. What is interesting is that the basketball team in AIS could participate in SEABL(South East Australian Basketball League).
2014 SEABL Finals
“If they come to AIS, they can not only develop their basketball ability, but also they don’t need to be worried about the professional censorship of NCAA.” said Jane. NCAA rules that players who had ever played in professional leagues cannot play in it any more.
“Patty Mills is one of the most successful basketball players in AIS.” said Dale, the SEABL operations. “He required the full basketball scholarship of AIS when he was only 16 years old. That is a fantastic achievement.”
(The quiet street basketball court in the morning. Photo by: Dong Huichuan)
However, the Australian basketball system still has some disadvantages. The foreign-aid system of Australian basketball leagues is always controversial, because enhancing the basketball level is conflict with developing indigenous players sometimes.
Most Australian basketball leagues allow one team sign two foreign aids, the aim is to attract audiences and drive the market. “We think foreign-aid policy needs to be changed now, because too many foreign aids have limited the development of youth players.” Jane said.
A team in SEABL has to pay foreign aids 60,000 dollars every year. In SEABL, the budget of every team is very tight, 60,000 would occupy most parts of budget. It leads to serious economic pressures to those teams.
“You can’t imagine how tight the budget is.” Jane said. “Most Australian indigenous players in SEABL don’t have wages, even their gas bill and bandage bill can’t be reimbursed. That’s very unfair!”
“If change two foreign aids to one, that would be better.” Jane pointed out. “Our leagues can save much money to do other things and indigenous players would have more opportunities.”