The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has announced its foray into competitive gaming in Oceania with the inaugural FIBA Esports Open, which will see the best NBA 2K20 players in Australia and New Zealand go head-to-head in a five game exhibition series.
Set to begin this weekend, the three-day event will include a live show from FIBA’s new production studio in Latvia, featuring as many as six games from the five global conferences, including Europe, South America, South-East Asia, the Middle East and Oceania. 17 national FIBA federations will each field a squad to take on their conference opponents over the weekend tournament.
Basketball Australia has partnered with ESL to build a six-man roster to take on their Trans-Tasman rivals in the exhibition series. Player selection was based on performances across both the NBA 2K20 Global Championship and in the Asia-Pacific NBA 2K competition.
“Basketball Australia is excited to participate in its first ever esports event. In partnership with FIBA and gaming industry leaders like ESL and NBA 2K, and we look forward to seeing our team take to the virtual court at the FIBA Esports Open 2020.” - Jerril Rechter, Basketball Australia CEO
The Australian squad boasts a wealth of experience, Jonte ‘AnkleTV’ Burns & Cooper ‘CQOPR’ Cameron are both two-time ANZ Champions, while point guard Benjamin ‘Waurk’ Klobas is fresh off his own recent win and MVP performance. Eric ‘Range’ Lim is arguably the most experienced player in the country and partners up with previous teammate and centre Max ‘Squoogs’ Ellwood, with Twitch streamer and power forward Cameron ‘DunkGod’ Sloper rounding out the all-star lineup. Basketball New Zealand is expected to announce their lineup in the coming days ahead of the opening match on Friday.
CEO of Basketball Australia, Jerril Rechter, is excited to open up new pathways into basketball in the region – a sport that continues to grow in Australia, with well over 1 million players from junior grades to the elite level NBL & WNBL Championships. “The FIBA Esports Open gives Basketball Australia a new avenue for engaging the Australian basketball and gaming communities, and it’s an opportunity to further grow the profile of the game in this country.”
Still in its off-season, the NBL is set to return in October. But with the 2019-2020 finals series cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, combined with uncertainty surrounding the next season launch, this weekend has come at the right time. Basketball Australia and FIBA can now enter the digital world of competitive esports and reach out to the next generation of players – both on the court and on the server.
FIBA Esports Open - Oceanic Conference Series
Day 1 (June 19)
Game 1: New Zealand vs. Australia (8:45pm AEST)
Game 2: Australia vs. New Zealand (9:25pm AEST)
Day 2 (June 20)
Game 3: New Zealand vs. Australia (8:45pm AEST)
Day 3 (June 21)
Game 4: Australia vs. New Zealand (8:45pm AEST)
Game 5: New Zealand vs. Australia (9:25pm AEST)
The FIBA Esports Open begins June 19 and you can catch the first of five Oceanic Conference matches between Australia and New Zealand on Friday at 8:45pm AEST on Twitch, Facebook or YouTube. View the full event schedule here.