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Basketball Australia under pressure over plan -

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Reporter: Simon Lauder

PETER CAVE: Basketball Australia is coming under increasing pressure to make sure the new league
it's creating includes teams from the eastern states.

Victoria's Sports Minister James Merlino, has now joined the critics who say that Basketball
Australia didn't do enough to make the new league viable.

Mr Merlino told Simon Lauder the administrators decision to proceed without the participation of
teams in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne is "a joke".

JAMES MERLINO: It is just extremely disappointing for Victorian basketball fans that this league
will go ahead it seems without any teams from Melbourne and frankly it is a joke.

You know, we have got a situation where, an extraordinary situation where at the local level, at
the grass roots, the sport is absolutely thriving. At the elite level, you know the Boomers and the
Opals are at the top echelon of the sport world-wide, yet Basketball Australia and nationally, we
just can't seem to get our act together for a fair dinkum national league.

SIMON LAUDER: Have you spoken to Basketball Australia and asked them to reconsider?

JAMES MERLINO: I have spoken to the Melbourne Tigers and I will be catching up with both clubs in
the next week and the important thing is we are not talking about clubs that were struggling, where
there was a question mark as to whether they will be able to survive in the new competition, we are
talking about the best run, the most successful teams in the competition.

It is widely acknowledged that the Melbourne Tigers are seen to be the best run, the most
financially viable team in the NBL competition and for the Tigers to say this new competition is
not commercially viable and more work needs to be done, I think is a damning indictment on what has
occurred over the last few months.

SIMON LAUDER: What went wrong here at Basketball Australia? How did this happen?

JAMES MERLINO: It seems to me that not enough work was done five, six, seven months ago when
everyone, everyone was on board in terms of the need for reform. So reform which incorporated
Basketball Australia and incorporated the NBL competition.

All the teams were on board. Everyone seemed to be on the right path but for some reason not enough
work was done from that moment to where we are today and I think some serious questions need to be
asked in terms of what has happened over the course of the last six months.

SIMON LAUDER: With the Federal Government having responsibility for Basketball Australia, is there
something you will be urging the Federal Government to do? Is there any intervention that can help
out here?

JAMES MERLINO: It's really a responsibility of the national codes to put together proposals that
stack up in a governance sense, that stack up financially. So they've got to put the case to the
Federal Government so whether we are talking about the national soccer competition or the
transnational netball competition or basketball in this country, they've got to make the case.

It is the responsibility of the sporting codes to make the case to the Federal Government and to
states and territories that their competition is viable so really, the essence of this problem
stems to Basketball Australia putting up a commercially viable national competition.

When they do that, they will get the support of governments, they will get the support of the key
basketball teams around the country.

PETER CAVE: Victoria's Sports Minister James Merlino speaking to Simon Lauder. A spokesman for
Basketball Australia says they are still working on it.