Summer is here!
Well… Not quite… But at Belconnen Basketball Stadium “Summer Slam” is well and truly underway.
While junior comps and senior social grades play similar format seasons to winter, summer sees Men’s and Women’s Premier Leagues replaced by a condensed competition. In its fourth season, Summer Slam bonds several Canberra basketball communities for the city’s highest level of local hoops. The tournament is already two weeks into its seven-week schedule.
Basketball ACT has linked up with Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence (formally the AIS) to raise the bar of local competitions while providing the CoE players opportunities to get games under their belt.
Summer Slam’s draft-style selection process has local players nominated to play, then a room full of high profile local coaches pick their teams. With just five men’s teams and three women’s teams to fill, and the addition of 12 Centre of Excellence athletes, the level of competition is strengthened, presenting a great opportunity for player development.
Playing in my third Summer Slam, I’m again loving the level of competition and the ability to play alongside some of Australia’s up-and-coming talents. Over the past two years, I’ve watched local players like James Toohey and Brody Doran raise their games to match their competitors and find themselves starting for the Canberra Gunners six months later.
For older local players (like me), the Slam provides a chance to compete with Premier 1 rivals, further strengthening friendships within our basketball community. It also allows players to take on new roles under a new coach, which they can learn from, and bring back to their club in winter.
The draft format along with retro NBA-inspired uniforms creates a buzz amongst players as new court combinations see friendships formed across Canberra’s hoop communities. And the up-and-down gameplay ensures high-scoring games, which spectators love to watch.
This year, the addition of the NBA Global Academy into the men’s competition again adds another layer, bringing incredible athleticism to the comp while creating an opportunity for kids from all over the world to feel a part of something here in Canberra.
This year, the ACT U20 Women’s side is using Summer Slam to prepare for February’s National Championships.
Written by Lachlan Ross / Photos by Paul Furness