NBL: Melbourne United confident of doing deal with Tennis Australia to play at Melbourne Park

THE NBL and Melbourne United is poised to retain its landmark deal with Tennis Australia to play for points at Melbourne Park during the Australian Open.

GILBERT GARDINERHerald SunAugust 21, 20185:47pm

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    THE NBL and Melbourne United is poised to retain its landmark deal with Tennis Australia to play for points at Melbourne Park during the Australian Open.

    Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley yesterday confirmed negotiations with the domestic basketball league had advanced.

    The league brokered a historic deal last year to be able to use the rebranded Melbourne Arena, formerly Hisense Arena, when it is no longer required for main draw tennis matches.

    “We’re dealing with them on the days and the times, but we’d love to obviously do the same thing,” Tiley said.

    “It was a great spectacle … having the open-air roof, playing like an outdoor basketball game, in a packed arena.”

    Melbourne is slated to host Illawarra Hawks on January 23, which coincides with the Australian Open quarter-finals. A twilight timeslot is preferred.

    Melbourne United defeated Cairns Taipans last year in the Australian Open game. Picture: Getty

    Melbourne United defeated Cairns Taipans last year in the Australian Open game. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images

    Melbourne defeated Cairns in the corresponding game last year in front of 7306 fans.

    United chief executive Vince Crivelli said the tennis partnership is a “feather in the cap” for the sporting capital Melbourne.

    “We’re close to securing that game again,” Crivelli said.

    “It really is an honour … and a little bit unique when two sporting codes come together, we’re playing for points and they’re playing for their championship.”

    The codes collided again yesterday for the renaming of the multipurpose Melbourne Arena.

    United has yet to finalise its roster for the upcoming season, but Crivelli said the search for a third import had centred on three potential candidates.

    But the NBL champions will not be rushed into the final piece to the roster puzzle.

    The new import is expected to be finalised before next month’s NBAxNBL double-header against Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors.

    “We feel like we have got a really good Australian core,” Crivelli said.

    “We’re not in a great rush to go out and sign a player, we’re very specific with the needs of the team and (coach) Dean’s (Vickerman) been really clear with that.

    “You don’t want to bring somebody in for the sake of it … it’s about bringing in the right piece, which means we’ll wait as long as it takes.

    “We’re looking for a hybrid forward, they don’t grow on three but they’re out there.”

    American swingman Lamar Patterson has been linked to United as the possible replacement for three-time NBL championship winner Prather.

    Originally published as NBL, United close to securing AO game

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