Last month, the Washington Wizards released their 2023 preseason schedule. They will host the Charlotte Hornets on Oct. 12 at Capital One Arena. But they will also host the Cairns Taipans of Australia’s National Basketball League just two days before.
So where is Cairns? Who are the Taipans?
Cairns is not Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra. It is the 15th largest city with a population of just 169,312. It is located in the northeastern part of the country in Queensland province.
As for the team itself, the Taipans made the NBL semifinals in the 2022-23 season. They went 18-10 in the regular season, losing in the semifinals to the Sydney Kings, the eventual champions. Wizards forward Xavier Cooks was on the Kings last season and was the NBL’s MVP.
Australia has one of the strongest professional basketball leagues outside of the United States, though it isn’t as prestigious as the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. At any rate, I’m interested to see how they play against the Wizards, who are the first of four NBA teams they will face while on an international tour. They will also play against the Toronto Raptors on Oct. 15.