15/04/2024

NBL23 will be full of marquee fixtures. (Photos: NZ Breakers; NBL; Tasmania JackJumpers)

With the season back in the October-February window for the first time in three years, The Inner Sanctum breaks down the highlights of the NBL23 fixture.

The NBL23 fixture has dropped, moving back to the October-February window for the first time in three seasons.

With each team playing 28 matches once again, The Inner Sanctum has broken down the fixture for each team ahead of tip off in just over two months’ time.

Adelaide 36ers

Fans will be excited for…

Opening up the season with two home games in a row, the Adelaide 36ers will be keen to put on a show with their new-look line-up.

The 36ers faithful will be treated to match-ups with the Tasmanian JackJumpers (Thursday, October 13) and Illawarra Hawks (Saturday, October 15) in some much anticipated fixtures.

Fans will be nervous for…

Fans will be nervous for the match-up with the Perth Wildcats on Saturday, November 5.

Historically rivals with the Wildcats but underperforming recently compared to the powerhouse team from Perth, the Sixers will see this match as a litmus test to see if they will be finals-bound this season.

The game you can’t miss:

The Christmas Eve game against the South East Melbourne Phoenix is one not to be missed by Sixers supporters.

The marquee match-up will be a fierce contest against former captain Mitch Creek’s men, who will be in the running for finals again.

Madeline Irwin

Brisbane Bullets

Fans will be excited for…

After finishing eighth last season, the Bullets are wanting to get back in the top four.

Fans will be excited for their first match of the season against the Perth Wildcats, the first of three games on the road to start the season.

It’s a tough stretch to start their campaign, but if the Bullets are serious about rising up the ladder, they can make an early statement.

Fans will be nervous for…

Fans should be nervous matching up with the title winner of last season Sydney Kings after their opener with Perth, playing in the Sydney crowd.

The Bullets went 1-2 with the Kings last year however, with the second loss a tight affair. The first match-up this year could be a key sign of whether they’ve improved or not.

The game you can’t miss:

Fans can’t miss out on the game to welcome in the new year of 2023, playing Melbourne United in front of their fans prime-time 4pm on Sunday afternoon.

Coming into what will be a key point of the season, they will hope will be a close game between the two teams.

Kye Ferreira

Cairns Taipans

Fans will be excited for…

Cairns Taipans fans will have to be excited for their first home game of the season in round two on October 10, when they host the Perth Wildcats.

It will be the first time Taipans’ will get to see new recruits Jonah Antonio, Lat Mayen, Sam Waardenburg, import D.J Hogg, and club favourites Bul Kuol, Tahjere McCall, and Keanu Pinder – fresh off an Asia Cup title – live and in person.

Come the October 10, Cairns fans will fill the ‘Snake Pit’ and be up and about to see their exciting squad ball out.

The Sunshine Stoush is always compelling viewing, and with both sides looking to improve and with some new additions to each team, there is no reason these games shouldn’t be entertaining.

Fans will be nervous for…

The Taipans face a tough first month of the season, facing multiple of the top teams in the competition.

With clashes against Tasmania, South East Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne in the first four rounds, travelling for all but one game, it could be a hard start for Cairns.

With the likelihood that those teams will be near the pointy end of the season again and with Cairns wanting to improve on its ninth-place finish last season, it will be crucial for Cairns to at least show some fight, if not cause a couple of upsets.

The game you can’t miss:

Cairns is back in its New Year’s Eve timeslot this season, this time against the Adelaide 36ers, and what a way it could potentially be going into the new year with a win.

With both teams filled to the brim with exceptional talent, this clash should be a fun game to watch and you will not want to miss it.

Jordan Janssen

Illawarra Hawks

Fans will be excited for…

The Illawarra Hawks, although losing some key pieces in the off-season, will be looking to win the title this season after losing to the Sydney Kings in the semi-finals just past.

The most exciting match for fans should be their matchup with the Perth Wildcats on New Year’s Eve, in what should be an entertaining game between both teams.

Fans should be nervous for…

The fans should be nervous for the matchup that kicks off the Hawks’ 2022-23 season in front of their home fans against the Sydney Kings.

It will be filled with the intense and competitive scenery that we saw in the playoffs this past season, with the Hawks out for revenge.

Fans can’t miss…

What fans should not miss is the matchup with Melbourne United on October 29, who took the minor premiership last season before being eliminated by the JackJumpers.

Kye Ferreira

Melbourne United

Fans will be excited for…

Melbourne United fans will be jumping for joy as their team’s first 14 games are set to be played at home at John Cain Arena.

Among the 14 games, United will feature in multiple feature games, such as the Multicultural Game, Indigenous Round, Cup Day Eve, and a pair of Throwdowns.

But probably the biggest feature is the return of the Open Air Game. The marquee game returns for the first time since 2019 and fans won’t want to miss out on the return of what was a regular highlight for Melbourne basketball fans.

Fans will be nervous for…

After getting knocked out in the semi-finals to the competition’s newest franchise, the Tasmania JackJumpers, United fans will want redemption. They won’t have to wait long to potentially get their revenge as United plays host to the JackJumpers in round three.

Melbourne knows the danger Tasmania presents, so the clash might prove to be one for the ages.

The game you can’t miss:

Even though they will be travelling to face the Kings on Christmas Day, the clash between the competition powerhouses looks like one you won’t want to miss.

With stars on both teams and the showcase being the first NBL game ever on Christmas Day, Chris Goulding and co will want to ensure Melbourne gets the W against the reigning champions.

Jordan Janssen

More Basketball News

New Zealand Breakers

Fans will be excited for…

After a full season away from New Zealand, Breakers fans will finally get the opportunity to see their side back at Spark Arena for 14 home games in NBL23. New players to the Breakers will have the chance to play in front of a home crowd for the first time.

The Breakers get a run of four games straight at home across the end of November and start of December to kick their summer off right. Hosting the Bullets, Phoenix, Wildcats and Kings, it will be a blockbuster fortnight for Kiwi hoops fans.

Fans will be nervous for…

A number of match ups across the league, with the Breakers building some unfortunate losing streaks in NBL22.

New Zealand didn’t get a single win over South East Melbourne, Melbourne United, Perth or Tasmania last season. Every trip to Melbourne especially will be a nervous one, which the Breakers will make twice in their first three games.

The game you can’t miss:

Could it be anything but the Breakers grand return to New Zealand?

Spark Arena will play host to a no doubt sell out crowd as the Breakers host the JackJumpers for the first time across the pond, in a battle of the islanders.

If it’s anything like the last time the side returned home, the atmosphere is sure to be deafening.

Alex Catalano

Perth Wildcats

Fans will be excited for…

The Perth Wildcats missed the finals last season, finishing in fifth place after a do-or-die loss in the final round to the South East Melbourne Phoenix.

With Luke Travers coming back to play for them this season, Perth will be hoping for a season that gets them into the playoffs and finals stages.

Fans should be excited for their season opener at home against the Bullets on a Sunday afternoon, in what will hopefully kickstart a better season for them.

Fans should be nervous for…

Fans should be nervous for their matchup with defending champions the Sydney Kings three days after their game in New Zealand, which would conclude the road trip they have at that point in the season.

It will be tough conditions to match up against, after taking the longest flight in the league back home.

The game you can’t miss:

Fans should not miss out on the game against the Tasmania JackJumpers, who in their first year made the finals.

Their first meeting in the season will be on Saturday, October 22 in Tasmania. Perth is a strong team on the road and with Tasmania being one of the best teams in the league, this will be a true test for it just a month into the 2022-23 season.

Kye Ferreira

South East Melbourne Phoenix

Fans will be excited for…

South East Melbourne fans will be filling out its spiritual homeland, the State Basketball Centre, for its last three home games in January.

The Phoenix’s game against the Bullets on January 16 will be the first game at the venue since 2021, and fans will pack the stands in the Heartland.

Phoenix fans could also get an early Christmas gift as they travel to Adelaide to play the 36ers on Christmas Eve.

South East Melbourne supporters will hope they can wake up on Christmas Day, with a big smile on their faces off the back of an exciting and mouthwatering clash, which they hopefully win.

Fans will be nervous for…

South East Melbourne struggled against the top teams in the league in NBL22. Last season, it finished with a losing record of six wins and 10 losses against the top four (Illawarra, Melbourne, Sydney, and Tasmania).

After missing the finals in NBL22, Simon Mitchell’s men don’t have to wait long to test themselves against the best.

The Phoenix host last year’s grand finalists the JackJumpers in the season opener on October 1, before travelling to the ‘Gong’, to face the second-placed Hawks on October 6.

The game you can’t miss:

Who would want to miss the first Throwdown of NBL23, especially after the season series in NBL22 featuring special moments such as Mitch Creek’s massive dunk on Matthew Dellavedova.

The Phoenix and United will engage in battle with three clashes in the space of a month, with games in rounds six, seven, and nine.

There won’t be an empty seat when it’s South East Melbourne’s turn to host festivities on November 19 and December 3 at John Cain Arena. The Phoenix will be hoping the season series is much closer this season, after going 1-3 against United last year.

Jordan Janssen

Sydney Kings

Fans will be excited for… 

In the second round of the season, the Kings will return home to Qudos Bank arena for the first time since winning the Championship last season. 

The Friday night game on October 7 against the Brisbane Bullets will be a time for fans to celebrate, with the Kings unfurling the championship banner in a ceremony before tip off. 

With the Kings retaining a strong core of the winning team, it will be a perfect opportunity for the purple and gold faithful to celebrate with the team and spur them on for the new season. 

Fans will be nervous for…

One of the biggest rivalries in basketball will light up again this season when the Kings take on the Hawks on the opening night of the season.

It won’t be the last time they face off, with the two set to see each other another three times for the season. They are contests that are always physical and come right down to the wire no matter where each team sits on the ladder. 

If the Kings are to have another strong season, these matches will provide a good picture of where they sit in their title defence.

The game you can’t miss: 

The game that can’t be missed not just for Kings fans, but NBL fans across the country, is the first ever game on Christmas Day. 

The match will take place on Christmas night, giving fans the chance to sit down and relax after Christmas lunch with the family. 

Sydney will host Melbourne United for the historic matchup, and what better teams could there be to start the tradition than these two heavyweights of the NBL? Historically, encounters between the two teams are full of entertainment and there is no reason to think this will be any different. 

Kristin Sims

Tasmania JackJumpers

Fans will be excited for…

With the JackJumpers claiming fans across the country in their inaugural season with their incredible resilience, they will be marching to the Silverdome in Launceston to play in front of their northern fans for the first time in NBL23.

They will have a chance to play two games in Launceston first up on November 18 against the New Zealand Breakers. The second will be played on January 18 against the South East Melbourne Phoenix.

The games are a great opportunity for the Ant Army to continue to grow across the sporting landscape in Tasmania. 

Fans will be nervous for…

The first half of the season has the JackJumpers on a lot of road trips. Their first home game doesn’t come until round four against the Wildcats. 

From here, the JackJumpers are back on the road again, heading to New Zealand and Perth before returning to Tasmania to play at the Silverdome. 

There is then another stint away for the team, playing in Melbourne, Brisbane and then ending that run of games in Sydney to take on the Kings for the first time since the championship series. 

Getting some big road wins will be vital for the JackJumpers to set up their season and have another chance at a finals appearance.

The game you can’t miss:

After overcoming Melbourne United to take their place in the championship series, the first matchup between the JackJumpers and United on October 16 is likely to be an action packed affair. 

The series last year ended in spectacular fashion, with the JackJumpers winning game three of the series by just three points.

United will be out for redemption on their home court, which will be a tough assignment for the JackJumpers. 

Kristin Sims

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