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Hawks Coach Backs NBL Return

Hawks Coach Backs NBL Return
September 25, 2009

Wollongong Hawks coach Gordie McLeod says the decision to persevere with the NBL, which has returned this week, is "fantastic" and the sport's struggle is more a reflection of the tough business world than the sport's popularity.

The community-backed Hawks are one of eight teams contesting the 2009/10 competition.

Perennial heavyweights Sydney and Brisbane dropped out last season due to financial problems, while defending champions South Dragons opted against participating in this year's competition because of concerns about the direction of the league.

Although many called for a hiatus to enable Sydney and Brisbane teams to be included in a 2010/11 program, McLeod, who returns to his hometown club this year, said the decision to play on had been particularly important for regional teams like Wollongong.

While saddened there was no Sydney team and the Hawks were the only NSW club this season, McLeod said it was a reflection on the business community rather than basketball, stating "it's not a reflection on basketball, because basketball at the junior level and the ABA level and all those levels is extremely strong and probably getting stronger.

"It was a reflection of the toughness in the business world and it's also a reflection where the league has gone with ownership and those sorts of things.

"It's just been a tough year for everyone so it's sad that we are the only team (in NSW) but it's great that the people of Wollongong showed what happens in a lot of regional areas.

"Basketball is very important to their area and their region and I thought Basketball Australia's decision to go ahead was a fantastic decision.

"For some people who were I think narrow-sighted and don't really understand where the game has come from and the importance that basketball plays in regional areas, for them it probably was a poor decision.

"But for someone who's been around basketball for a long time, if the league didn't go ahead it could have been the end of some of those (regional) teams because other sports are encroaching into those areas.

"You've only got to look at the A-League and the AFL."

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