NBL return unlikely for super coach Brian Goorjian as he focuses on Asia’s blockbuster vision for Australian basketball

Is the NBL’s super coach on his way back? All the breaking NBL news, insights and talking points in this week’s crosscourt column with Matt Logue and Michael Randall.

Supercoach Brian Goorjian has been linked with an NBL return, but the man himself says that’s unlikely as he focuses on a bigger plan that sees Asia join the booming Australian league.

Goorjian, currently based in the Philippines and coaching the Bay Area Dragons, was recently mentioned as a candidate at South East Melbourne Phoenix.

Phoenix manager Simon Mitchell is out of contract and the club are considering a possible move, with Goorjian and former Perth mentor Trevor Gleeson among the contenders.

However, the man nicknamed “Goorj” told Crosscourt that a comeback to Australia is not high on his priority list as he cements his coaching role with the Bay Area Dragons in the burgeoning East Asia Super League (EASL).

Goorjian’s Bay Arena Dragons are a visiting team in the EASL – a league made up of teams from Greater China, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.

EASL receives significant commercial support from China, opening the door for the league to be hailed as the EuroLeague of Asia.

Goorjian believes the NBL and its teams and players will benefit greatly from a “synergy” with Asia and growing EASL competition.

“The big picture, and I’ve had discussions with Larry (Kestelman), is that Australia will be part of the EASL,” said Goorjian, who always has his coaching contracts expire from year to year.

“I want this (league) to touch Australia because I think it will be important for the Australian national team too. It helps the coaching and standard.

“I think it’s the only way forward for the region and I think it’s going to be amazing for Australia on the way there, mark my words.

“So (my coaching role with the Bay Dragons) is much bigger than just being the coach.

“I don’t say no to anything, but you can hear where I am right now.”

Goorjian’s vision for Asia comes as NBL boss Larry Kestelman recently expressed his desire to see the league return to the region.

“We’re looking at Asia very closely, how do we get interest from Asia, how do we get eyeballs from Asia, how do we grow?” Kestelman said.

The Singapore Slingers competed in the NBL from 2006 to 2008 and Kestelman confirmed the potential of a similar concept going forward.

How the team will be structured and where it will be based are still unanswerable questions, but Kestelman believes it would be an ideal way to increase awareness of the league in Asia.

“I have this concept; I would love to see the old Singapore Slingers revived…an Asian team whether they are based here (Australia) or abroad,” he said.

Last month, the Illawarra Hawks spread their wings in the Asian basketball market when club owners Crest Sports and Entertainment announced a significant investment in the East Asian Super League.

Crest also invested in the Goorjian-trained Bay Area Dragons, a move that the six-time NBL championship-winning mentor says has huge potential.

“The whole purpose of leaving (the NBL) and coming to Asia was just for the time I was spending (previously in region coaching in China) and I think this idea is just vital to our region,” Goorjian said .

“The NBL is the second best league after the NBA, but that league will be bigger than the EuroLeague from a support perspective because of the interest in basketball and the size of the countries.

“There are over 100 million people in the Philippines and basketball is the No. 1 sport, and in China there are a billion and four and it’s the No. 1 sport.”


The absence of NBL MVP contender Mitch Creek from the Boomers’ roster for next week’s World Cup qualifiers has raised questions.

Creek has enjoyed a stellar season with South East Melbourne Phoenix as an All-NBL First Team star, but he has not appeared on an understaffed Australia roster.

Instead, the Boomers went with players like Todd Blanchfield and Phoenix teammate Kyle Adnam, who, with all due respect, aren’t in the same league as Creek.

It begs the question: has Creek paid the price for its troubles outside of court in the past?

There is a strong belief the Phoenix forward faces an uphill battle to attract green and gold again.

Respected basketball pundit Boti Nagy described Creek’s departure from the Boomers roster as a “farce.”

Australia have already qualified for this year’s World Cup but have two games left in the Victorian suburb of Wantirna on February 23rd and 26th.


A bevy of talented kids at the U20 National Championships have already signed up for US college programs, but could some NBL Next Stars join them?

Next Stars scout Liam Santamaria was on the ground in Geelong hoping to find a couple who could one day step into NBL roles.

And he liked what he saw from a number of players, particularly young prodigies Rocco Zikarsky and Dash Daniels, both of whom played for the NBA Global Academy team.

Santamaria said the league has already reached out to Zikarsky, the 16-year-old, 220cm phenom, to make him aware of the Next Stars program and its implications.

“We feel like he has a really big future in the game and he’s a guy we’ve had some early conversations with,” Santamaria told Crosscourt.

“We think the Next Stars program would be a really great path into the professional world for him.

“There’s a lot of potential in a guy like Dash Daniels and I’m fascinated to keep watching him for years to come.”

Santamaria said he was blown away by the talent being displayed at the tournament and said the Next Stars program is geared towards players who may one day have a chance of being selected in the NBA draft.

“It’s about what kind of skills you have and also what kind of teammates you are. Then we look at how you’ve progressed and that’s part of the process of following these young people over a period of time,” he said.

“Being there in person and following the games instead of watching through a TV screen allows you to see how these guys interact with their coaches, their teammates and the officials, how they deal with adversity and pressure in game environments so important in the scouting process .”

The league just had one new next star in NBL23, French sensation Rayan Rupert, who played for New Zealand and is a lottery pick in this year’s NBA draft. Giant Melbourne United center Ariel Hukporti, who tore his Achilles tendon last season, has expressed a desire to return to the league as the next star for NBL24.


There is no doubt that the NBL’s new finals format was a resounding success, providing more regular season games that mattered and generating two additional fanbases for postseason excitement.

But it’s also fueled heated debates, with West and East bickering over what exactly constitutes an “Endgame” gig.

After Perth lost their play-in game to Cairns, Sydney Kings, including Paul Smith and Andrew Bogut, and the fans were quick to point out that the Wildcats had missed the final for two straight years. Cats fans fight back, sparking entertaining – and sometimes spiteful – skirmishes between bitter rivals.

But the NBL has ended the debate, confirming that the Wildcats’ 35-year finals series only had a one-year hiatus thanks to the new format.

The league told Crosscourt that the top six teams all officially advanced to the NBL Finals — even South East Melbourne, which was eliminated in the first play-in qualifier.

The league also changed some terminology for each round of its finals round – a move that left traditionalists upset:

– Round 1: Play-In Tournament – Three games with ranking positions 3-4-5-6.

– Round 2: Playoffs – The traditional semifinals renamed. Still a pair of best-of-three series, featuring the top two teams and the other two that make it out of the play-in tournament.

– Round 3: Championship Series – Traditionally known as the Grand Final. Renamed but remains a best-of-five series.

Love it or hate it, that’s the debate.

Originally released as NBL, a return is unlikely for super coach Brian Goorjian as he focuses on the blockbuster Asian vision for Australian basketball

https://www.codesports.com.au/basketball/nbl-return-unlikely-for-supercoach-brian-goorjian-as-he-focuses-on-blockbuster-asian-vision-for-aussie-basketball/news-story/d27fff61520f2a5ab72b5f010d5b3193?nk=327203838319bbcc61e91711a915cab6-1676836627 NBL return unlikely for super coach Brian Goorjian as he focuses on Asia’s blockbuster vision for Australian basketball

Ryan Sederquist

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