Tasmania JackJumpers celebrate winning the 2024 NBL title.
Hoopy Christmas: The NBL champion JackJumpers will welcome the NZ Breakers on December 25. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS
  • basketball

Christmas Day games return to NBL schedule

Shayne Hope June 21, 2024

NBL champions Tasmania, along with the Sydney Kings, will again host games on Christmas Day as the league seeks to build on the popular concept for a third straight season.

The JackJumpers, fresh off claiming their maiden title, will host the New Zealand Breakers at Hobart’s MyState Bank Arena, while Sydney will do battle with intrastate rivals the Illawarra Hawks at Qudos Bank Arena.

Tip-off times for the December 25 fixtures are still to be confirmed.

The Kings pioneered the Christmas Day concept for the NBL in 2022, in what was marketed as a first for Australian sport.

The move was part of the NBL’s attempt to emulate the traditional NBA festive clashes in the United States.

The response has been positive so far, with big crowds and television audiences encouraging the league to push the experiment further.

“Christmas Day has become a unique feature of the NBL calendar, securing huge broadcast numbers,” JackJumpers chief executive Christine Finnegan said.

Action from Sydney Kings vs Illawarra Hawks in February 2024.
 Twelve days of Christmas: The Kings and Hawks will clash in one of a string of festive showdowns. Image by Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS 

The 2024-25 season will open with a Championship Series re-match between Tasmania and Melbourne United at Perth’s RAC Arena, as part of the four-day ‘HoopsFest’ carnival in Western Australia.

The hometown Perth Wildcats host South East Melbourne Phoenix the following night, with NBL games and WNBL fixtures being played as double-headers.

“Excitement is building for next season and we are thrilled to announce a schedule that’ll see the campaign begin with a bang in Perth,” NBL chief executive David Stevenson said.

“There’s real anticipation for us to be back playing, and having the combination of the biggest weekend in Australian basketball history with HoopsFest, alongside a round-two schedule that’s jam-packed with great match-ups, ensures we will return in the biggest way possible.

“Fans are at the forefront of everything we do, and after welcoming more than a million people through the gates for the first time since 1996, we have developed a schedule that is filled with family friendly timeslots, especially through the summer holidays.”

In a bumper schedule to finish the calendar year, NBL games will be played over 12 straight days around Christmas, from December 20-31.

The program includes fixtures on Christmas Eve (36ers-Bullets) and Boxing Day (Taipans-United), as well as a double-header on New Year’s Eve (Hawks-Phoenix and Taipans-Breakers).

The regular season will also include dedicated Indigenous, Pride and Heritage rounds.

It ends on February 8, with the Finals and Championship Series to be concluded in March.