Crosswell plays for fifth NBL club

IT won’t happen overnight but it will happen.

That is the message from Ballina-bred basketball star Nathan Crosswell, who will turn out for his fifth NBL club, the Townsville Crocodiles, when the 2010-11 season begins next month.

The NBL has undergone a much-needed facelift over the off-season with crowds and sponsorship dollars in freefall.

But under the guidance of one of Australian basketball’s most decorated men, Larry Sengstock, Crosswell, like many other judges, predicts the National Basketball League has turned the corner.

“Without a doubt, the NBL’s time has come,” Crosswell told The Northern Star from his home in Townsville.

“The NBL has the right guys in the top positions now to go forward – guys who know the game well.”

There is no doubt the NBL product is good, if not excellent, but getting the message to the people has been the problem since the sport lost its free-to-air television coverage some years ago.

This off-season Sengstock and his men have secured a TV deal with Network Ten subsidiary ONE HD which will bring basketball back to lounge rooms around the country.

“That is a great push from the NBL,” Crosswell said of the television deal.

“Without a doubt the product is great; new people who go to the game love it, they get close to the action to the point where they can hear the players talking. But when we lost the TV coverage it went downhill.”

Another area where Crosswell believes the former NBL administration failed is with the kids.

“We lost our way for five or 10 years there where we weren’t getting into the schools,” he said.

“But now we are doing promos in schools all the time and it is great. We are getting the kids to talk and think basketball which is where it all begins.”

Crosswell believes the NBL can return to its glory days of the 1980s and ’90s when Andrew Gaze and Leroy Loggins were household names and the Melbourne Tigers were one of the most recognised sporting brands in the country.

“It won’t happen right away. It might take three to five years as we have taken a hit. But the way it is looking it won’t be long and the sport will be back to where it belongs,” Crosswell said.

The Townsville Crocodiles will tip-off their season against fierce rivals the Cairns Taipans on October 16 and Crosswell and his team-mates have a clear goal in mind.

“Our goal is to win the championship,” he said.

“That is what we have all been recruited for and neither the coach nor the players will be shying away from it.”

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