The 2021 National Basketball League season returns to ESPN next week.The Perth Wildcats will look to defend their Hungry Jack’s NBL Championship against a host of challengers.
Perth lifted the trophy last season, and will look to defend their title against some formidable challengers, headed by Melbourne United, Cairns Taipans, Sydney Kings and the New Zealand Breakers.
ESPN’s coverage begins with a blockbuster double header on Friday January 15, with two games back to back in prime time.
The first sees the Cairns Taipans host The Hawks at 7.30pm AEDT on ESPN.
It will be the first look at The Hawks, under the most successful coach in NBL history, and now Australian Boomers boss Brian Goorjian.
The Illawarra side face a tricky test first up, as Cairns are expected to be one of the teams to beat this season, having assembled a strong roster, led by Nathan Jawai and young Aussie stars Mirko Djeric, Majok Deng and Kouat Noi.
Then, the defending champion Perth Wildcats will start their title defense against Melbourne United at 9.30pm AEDT.
Two-time NBL Most Valuable Player, Bryce Cotton will again lead the charge for the Wildcats, as Perth look to deliver a championship three-peat for the first time.
Saturday January 16 will see the Brisbane Bullets host 2019-20 Grand Finalists, the Sydney Kings at 8pm AEDT.
The Kings have seen much change in the off-season, with star Andrew Bogut retiring and coach Will Weaver leaving for a position in the NBA.
Sydney have been quietly going about their business, and with star Casper Ware on deck again, the Kings cannot be discounted from the championship picture.
Wednesday January 20 sees Adelaide 36ers and New Zealand Breakers collide at 7.30pm AEDT on ESPN.
Both will hope to improve on last season’s efforts, with much expected from the Breakers this season.
The 2021 NBL season will also see the introduction of the ‘NBL Cup’, starting February 20.
All nine NBL teams will enter the hub in Melbourne, with 36 games being played in the mid-season tournament.
A $150,000 prize is up for grabs for the team who finishes with the most points, with $100,000 for second place and $50,000 for third.
All wins and losses in the NBL Cup will count towards each team’s overall win/loss record for the season.
NBL on ESPN Schedule
Friday January 15
Cairns Taipans vs The Hawks, 7.30pm AEDT
Perth Wildcats vs Melbourne United, 9.30pm AEDT
Saturday January 16
Brisbane Bullets vs Sydney Kings, 8.00pm AEDT
Wednesday January 20
Adelaide 36ers vs New Zealand Breakers, 7.30pm AEDT
Thursday January 21
Brisbane Bullets vs Melbourne United, 7.30pm AEDT
Friday January 22
Adelaide 36ers vs South East Melbourne Phoenix, 7.30pm
Saturday January 23
Cairns Taipans vs Sydney Kings, 8.00pm AEDT
Monday January 25
Cairns Taipans vs South East Melbourne Phoenix, 7.30pm
*Schedule is subject to change
ESPN and ESPN2 are available on Foxtel, Kayo Sports