MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - The 2019 International Indigenous Basketball & Cultural Showcase will take place on Thursday, August 22 in Melbourne, held as a curtain-raiser event prior to the Australian Boomers vs USA Basketball exhibition basketball game at Marvel Stadium.
As a link to the high-profile game between Australia and the United States that tips off at 7:30pm, the inaugural 2019 International Indigenous Basketball & Cultural Showcase will see Australian Indigenous Basketball (AIB) national team’s face-off against visiting Kingdom of Hawai’i (KOH) national representative squads on the Marvel Stadium court at 5:00pm.
In addition to the high-octane hoops action, Indigenous cultures of Australia and Hawai’i will also be celebrated as part of the game-night festivities; a first at the elite level of Australian basketball.
Both Indigenous nations will have their anthem performed in traditional language and respective dancers from each cultural group will also perform on-court.
The game itself will be played in two fifteen-minute halves, with the women’s teams taking the floor for the first period and men’s teams hitting the hardwood for the second stanza.
Joel Khalu, AIB Chief Executive Officer and Head Coach of the men’s national side believed the event created a tremendous platform to unite people in a celebration of culture through sport.
“It’s historic for AIB to deliver an event of this magnitude on the world stage,” Khalu said.
“Basketball-wise, this is certainly the type of contest that could inspire the next Patty Mills, Nathan Jawai, Rohanee Cox or Leilani Mitchell. We want more of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth participating in sports, particularly basketball.”
“When our AIB representative players step out on-court at Marvel Stadium. I’m sure it will be a moment they’ll never forget.”
“On behalf of AIB, I would like to thank the major stakeholders involved for this tremendous opportunity - Basketball Australia, USA Basketball, the Victorian Government, along with TEG Live and Marvel Stadium. We also want to thank the Kingdom of Hawai’i for accepting our invitation to participate. I would also like to acknowledge and sincerely thank Patty Mills and his team who have been instrumental in helping make all of this become a reality.”
AIB Ambassador, three-time Olympian and NBA Champion Patty Mills was thrilled to be a part of these landmark events.
“Maintaining culture and traditions in any family, or society is crucially important. It helps build, develop and mold an individual into who they will eventually become. It forms an identity and will be the core of all values that evolve.”
“The coming together of two different Indigenous cultures from around the globe, through today’s popular sport of basketball, is a creative way to keep thousands of years of Indigenous traditions relevant in the rapidly growing modern society.”
“As a representative and role model for Indigenous people throughout multiple countries, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the process for this event on the court and also in our community but at this time I would like to thank Basketball. For giving us Indigenous people, the platform and opportunity to encourage our identities and to keep our cultures alive.”
When asked about getting more Indigenous players representing Australia in basketball, “Young Indigenous people need opportunities to be included in programs and pathways specifically designed to acknowledge, support, and encourage cultural diversity for them to prosper and reach their full potential, so that they can represent Australia at the international level,” Mills said.
Kingdom Of Hawai’i coach Kawika Villa also reiterated his excitement to be a part of the occasion.
“We are ecstatic to be coming to Australia to compete in this level of basketball and cultural showcase for the first time in our program's history,” Villa said.
“We are thankful to all the sponsors and organisers, AIB and Patty Mills for inviting us and for hosting us while we're there.”
“We anticipate a tough encounter on the court against the AIB sides, but really look forward to bonding with the players and sharing culture away from the court.”
“As Kanaka Maoli we have the utmost respect for other Indigenous people. We love hearing their stories and songs, seeing their dances, and hearing their language. That connection time and kinship is really what will make our kupuna (ancestors) smile, and that is the most gratifying experience for us, is to honor them in this way.”
Prior to the Thursday night match-up at Marvel Stadium, the two nations will also play games on Tuesday night, August 20 at the State Basketball Centre in Knox. An official launch of AIB and Patty Mills community projects will also be held in Mildura, Victoria on Monday, August 19 along with a Traditional Welcome.
“As a whole, this event is about so much more than just basketball,” Khalu added.
“Each time our AIB men’s & women’s national teams join together in preparation for international games, we make sure that we also conduct significant community engagement that aligns with our strategic priorities and our visit to Mildura is one way in which we will achieve this.”
Tickets to the Australian Boomers vs USA Basketball (7.30pm) on Thursday 22 August, featuring the Australian Indigenous Basketball national team against Kingdom of Hawai’i (5.00pm) are available from Ticketmaster.