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It’s back. The NBL’s dropping two huge Christmas games into our stockings


Christmas Day NBL, NBL Preview

It looks as though Christmas Day NBL will be the gift that keeps on giving.

It’s a wildly popular concept in the United States and was well received late last year, as the Sydney Kings launched December 25 action in a blockbuster with Melbourne United. It was not only a first ever slice of Christmas Day basketball down under, but also the first time we experienced professional sport in Australia.

The League has announced there’ll be twice the action this year; back-to-back Christmas Day NBL games.

“Sports fans everywhere told us they want NBL on Christmas and having listened, we acted,” NBL Executive Director and Owner Larry Kestelman said.

Christmas Day NBL: Xavier Cooks, Sydney Kings
Last season’s MVP Xavier Cooks will miss the Christmas Day NBL action this year, now playing with the Wizards in the NBA.

Christmas Day NBL games 2023

The Tasmania JackJumpers will launch the slate, before the Kings once again host a match of their own at Qudos Bank Arena – rewarded for championing the concept.

GAME 1: Tasmania JackJumpers v South East Melbourne Phoenix, 5:30pm AEDT, MyState Bank Arena

GAME 2 : Sydney Kings v Illawarra Hawks, 7:30pm AEDT, Qudos Bank Arena

“After the incredible response we had last year it was important for us to schedule a huge Christmas double-header this season,” Kestelman said.
“Last season’s game between Sydney and Melbourne United was watched by more than 300,000 people and was one of the most popular programs on the day.

“It not only delivered a fantastic in-stadium atmosphere and experience, but was also a must-watch TV event.”

Christmas Day NBL tickets

As soon as there’s an update on a ticket release, we’ll update this story. You can be sure they will be available at the NBL website, though.

“Heavy demand for ticketing is expected, particularly in the lower bowl area, as a lot of purchasers are families and groups of friends,” Kings Co-Owner and Chairman Paul Smith told NBL media.

Christmas Day NBL
Colourful and unmissable Kings Co-Owner Paul Smith has been pushing hard for Christmas Day NBL

What happened in the first ever Christmas Day NBL game?

Out to defend their a drought-breaking title, the Sydney Kings extended its lead at the top of the NBL standings with an impressive 101-80 win over Melbourne United.

Paul Smith was a key figure in building momentum for the concept, noting that not everyone celebrates Christmas the same way, if at all. Either way, basketball – whether there or on the big screen – was a nice end point to the day.


“After the Kings’ Christmas night success during the 2022-23 season, we are excited to return with a Christmas version of The Freeway Series in NBL24, and a win over the Hawks will be the perfect way to celebrate,” Smith said.

The rest is history, of course, but the Kings defended their 2021-22 NBL title with an enormous regular season; a 19-9 campaign to finish top of the standings and claim home court through the finals. The franchise would go on to win the Finals-deciding Game 5 at Qudos Bank Arena against the New Zealand Breakers to secure back-to-back championships.

Christmas Eve NBL 2023

There’s action either side of December 25 this year, too, the Adelaide 36ers and Brisbane Bullets set to warm up everyone’s appetite. That match is at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, 2:00pm AEDT on December 24.

Boxing Day NBL 2023

And because too much sport is never enough, the NBL has locked in a truly spicy conclusion to Boxing Day, after everyone’s had enough cricket and leftovers throughout the day.

Emerging sensation Keanu Pinder will return to Cairns in a revenge matchup against the Taipans. The centre recently signed with the Perth Wildcats. That game’s happening at the Cairns Convention Centre, 7:30pm AEDT, December 26.

Picture of Phil Prior
Phil Prior
Phil is the editorial lead at Only Sports, bringing more than 12 years of wide-ranging sports media experience to the team. But it’s his unrivalled passion that sets him apart. He also commentates AFL on SEN Radio, plus Rugby on Stan Sport. Find Phil on LinkedIn.

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