GUN PLAYER: Derek Rucker.
GUN PLAYER: Derek Rucker.

Brisbane shooting for a return to NBL

THE National Basketball League has given a "98%" assurance that Brisbane will be back slam dunking again in season 2015-16.

Announcing it will stage its annual pre-season spectacular, The Blitz, at Brisbane's historic Auchenflower Stadium from September 19-21, NBL boss Fraser Neill confirmed the return of a basketball side from the city to the national competition was imminent.

The Brisbane Bullets, who won NBL titles in 1985 and 1987 under coach Brian Kerle, and in 2007 under Joey Wright, closed its doors in June 2008 when failed businessman Eddy Groves handed back their NBL licence.

Neill gave assurances a new franchise, which may or may not be known as the Bullets, would not be a second-string side and would have the necessary financial backing to recruit players and coaches to challenge for an NBL title from day one.

"If you're going to have Brisbane in the NBL you want them to be competitive from the first day," Neill said.

"We want a competitive league and we're not just putting Brisbane back in to make up the numbers. We want them to be very strong.

"We're speaking to a number of groups about heading up the team and we're very confident, come rain, hail or shine, there will be an NBL team in Brisbane for the 2015-16 season."

Neill said market research had shown the return of a Brisbane side could help rejuvenate the NBL, and staging The Blitz at Auchenflower would give fans the chance to show they wanted a team in the national league.

"There's no point having a national competition without a team in Brisbane, it's left a big hole on the map," he said.

He also said the public would have a say in the team's name, while venues in and around Brisbane were being investigated with a view to hosting games.

"There's a lot of options ... Chandler, Logan, whether or not Ipswich could develop one is something we're talking about and obviously there's the (Brisbane) Entertainment Centre,'' Neill said. "We're not closing the door on any of them."

Former Brisbane Bullets star Derek Rucker told APN exclusively in May that he would jump at the chance to coach Brisbane if and when a team was re-admitted .

And three-time league MVP and Brisbane's greatest player Leroy Loggins also said he would love to be involved ... off the court.

"I wouldn't be that silly (to make a comeback), but if I can be involved in any way and give some of my experience back to the organisation I would be more than happy," he said.



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