With just 123 days to go before the London Olympics, Minister for Sport and Recreation Hugh Delahunty tonight announced Victoria is set to host a Farewell Series featuring Australia’s Boomers versus Greece and the Jayco Opals up against Brazil between 24 – 28 June in Bendigo, Geelong and Melbourne.
Announcing the series at Basketball Australia’s night of nights, the 2011/12 MVP Awards, Mr Delahunty said hosting some of Australian basketball’s best presented a fantastic opportunity for Victorians to farewell their nation’s heroes in style before they compete for Olympic glory.
“Each year Australian elite leagues like the NBL and WNBL produce outstanding talents,” Mr Delahunty said.
“Many of these athletes have gone on to become Boomer and Opal greats including today’s WNBA stars Penny Taylor, Lauren Jackson and Elizabeth Cambage, and NBA champ Andrew Bogut.
“The Farewell Series will feature these stars and more when the Opals play Brazil and the Boomers take on Greece – ranking fourth in the FIBA league – across a number of cities and towns throughout our state in a three-game series for each.
“The Victorian Government is proud to be associated with major events like these as they not only provide a boost to local economies and participation but showcase our passion for sport and quality basketball facilities throughout the state.
“And I’m also pleased to announce the new $27 million State Basketball Centre in Knox will be launched during the series with game two between the Boomers and Greece being the first international to be hosted at the venue,” Mr Delahunty said.
The centre includes a state-of-the-art 3,200-seat stadium and show court which allows fans a bird’s eye views of all the action.
“I am sure every game will be played in front of packed houses as Victorians farewell our Boomers and Opals and wish them the best of luck before they travel to London for the Olympics,” Mr Delahunty said.
Basketball Australia Chief Executive Officer Larry Sengstock said it was exciting to bring such highly ranked international teams to Melbourne and regional Victoria.
“Both the Greek men’s team and the Brazilian women’s team are highly ranked in world Basketball, so it’s a major coup to be able to bring them both here prior to London,” Mr Sengstock said.
“It will provide the Boomers and Jayco Opals with the best possible preparation for the Olympics, and to be able to play these games across Victoria is exciting. It will also provide Victorians and Australians an opportunity to see the complete Olympic Boomers and Opals teams up close and personal.”
The series, known as the Farewell Series, opens on Sunday 24 June with a Boomers and Jayco Opals double-header at Hisense Arena in Melbourne. The Boomers will then face the Greek men’s team at the State Basketball Centre in Knox on Monday 25 June, and the Jayco Opals will take on the Brazilian women’s team on Tuesday 26 June in Bendigo.
The Boomers will then travel to Geelong to play Greece on Wednesday 27 June before the Jayco Opals close out the series with a game against Brazil in Knox on Thursday 28 June.
The Boomers and Jayco Opals will also undertake a range of community outreach activities around the series, including conducting clinics in Traralgon, Bendigo and Frankston and a visit to the Royal Children’s Hospital.