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Basketball tries to bounce back from financia -

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Reporter: Simon Santow

PETER CAVE: It was only a few years ago that the sport of basketball in Australia was riding high.

But now the elite men's competition is struggling for its very survival.

After the collapse of teams in Sydney and Brisbane, the game's administrators have spent the last
few months battling to ensure there'll even be a league this season.

Just a short time ago, the announcement came through that there'll be a seven team competition, but
at this stage the strongest basketball city Melbourne won't be represented.

Simon Santow reports.

SIMON SANTOW: Forget the hoopla.

Basketball is in big trouble.

While the players are renowned for soaring to great heights on the court, the game at the highest
level in Australia has plummeted to the point it may not survive into the next season.

PETER CRAWFORD: The whole process has been going on for a fair while and for it not to have still
been resolved is a little bit annoying so whoever is running it, isn't doing a very good job.

SIMON SANTOW: Perth Wildcat Peter Crawford is a player with a more secure future than many others.

His team is one of seven who have put their hands up to play in the 2009/2010 season starting in a
few short months.

But last season's champions the Dragons and runners up, fellow Melbourne team the Tigers have
pulled out balking at the condition of having a million dollar bank guarantee.

The Tigers say it would be better to have no competition this season than an unsustainable one.

Larry Sengstock is the chief executive officer of Basketball Australia and the man charged with
reviving the National Basketball League.

LARRY SENGSTOCK: What we can say is that we have got a group of committed teams that want to work
with us and we are trying to make sure that we provide the opportunities for our players, our
teams, our coaches, our administrators, our sponsors, supporters the every opportunity to see
basketball at its highest level in Australia over the coming years.

SIMON SANTOW: Have you got a competition for 2009?

LARRY SENGSTOCK: We have got seven groups and seven teams that we are looking to work with. Our
focus is to give ourselves the time. We have said this right from the start that we need to make
sure that this league is sustainable from an economic point of view and provide what the players
and the spectators want and the market wants.

SIMON SANTOW: How can the league be sustainable from that economic point of view if you've got no
team in Sydney, no team in Brisbane and no team in Melbourne?

LARRY SENGSTOCK: And that's exactly what we need to work with going forward and that is what this
whole process has shown us, that, you know, we do need to take the time to get it right and we are
going to look to 2010 as being the time that we launched the new national league, the new elite
competition for men.

SIMON SANTOW: So will '09 be a warm-up in a sense? I mean are you likely to get television rights
for example when you don't have three of the big markets covered?

LARRY SENGSTOCK: And that is something that certainly we are working with our broadcast partners at
this point in time to see exactly what that means.

SIMON SANTOW: You would have to concede that not having Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane covered
would make selling TV rights just not very attractive at all?

LARRY SENGSTOCK: Look, I absolutely concede that and that's an issue that we have got and that is
what this process has shown us that we had a situation where the Sydney teams have struggled in
recent years and we have looked at opportunities to reignite that. That hasn't happened through
this process and now we recognise again that we need to have something in this marketplace in
Sydney so we need to take the time to get that right so to go out now with a full-blown league at
this point in time would be difficult for us.

SIMON SANTOW: You would be aware though that a lot of people have said, well if we can't get the
competition right this year, let's not have a competition this year and instead get it right for
2010.

LARRY SENGSTOCK: And I think in a perfect world that may be one of the answers but right now we are
not working in a perfect world. We are working in a very difficult economic climate.

SIMON SANTOW: So what would be the effect if you sat this season out?

LARRY SENGSTOCK: There is a number of different scenarios that could happen and a number of
different examples we could look at. We could look at baseball that took time off and really have
never recovered. We could look at football soccer that took the time off but were able to support
themselves through that period and come out with a different league.

We've got to look at both of those but I don't think we are in a position to do what soccer has
done and I think we're in a position that we need to maintain our presence again for the basketball
public but also more so for the opportunities for our young players and our existing players to
continue in the game.

PETER CAVE: The chief executive of Basketball Australia, Larry Sengstock, speaking there to our
reporter Simon Santow.