By Russell Bennett
The South East Super League is the real life brand of fantasy basketball taking the region by storm.
The brainchild of local resident Tristan Blacka – who heads up the competition with business partner Dale Taylor, as well as Blacka’s younger brother Liam – the SESL was formed in 2016 as a way for local basketballers to maintain their fitness and their involvement in the sport.
But it developed quickly from there, to the point where – entering into the third domestic season – the SESL boasts 16 teams and includes 128 players all told.
But a deeper look shows where the fun really starts.
Each team is based on a local region and has its own moniker – just two of the 16 that spring to mind are the ‘Maryknoll Matadors’ and ‘Emerald Bears’.
There are also general managers – themselves SESL players – who run each team, and that includes the annual drafting process.
This season’s draft was held on Sunday – and recorded on video to later be viewed by a wide audience on Facebook.
Surrounding the draft was a combine, held over a three-week period, to showcase the skills of the players competing.
A number of parity measures are built in to ensure a level playing field across the competition. One of those is that each respective general manager must draft himself in his own team.
The SESL domestic competition runs across two nights at Bridgewood Primary School in Officer – split evenly into games on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Teams are split into two conferences. Each team across the 11-week competition plays each of its conference opponents once, as well as playing four ‘crossover’ games against teams from the opposing conference.
Each team will then go on to play in the playoffs, where the matchups are seeded in a similar fashion to the tennis majors.
Each team is professionally outfitted in its own unique, eye-catching uniform by Taylor Teamwear – Dale Taylor’s own company – and this season the uniforms carry a ‘90s throwback theme.
The SESL is effectively made up of anyone and everyone from former representative players, to local business owners and residents, to players more well-known for their exploits in other sports – like Kooweerup senior football coach Ben Collins.
At the end of the season, the SESL Elite and Women’s competitions roll around and they’re stacked with a who’s who of local Big V and SEABL stars.
The SESL has made such an imprint on the local sporting landscape, there’s already talk of interstate expansion. The league will also continue to look at incorporating more exhibition games – like those already held against a representative team from Ho Chi Minh City – into its schedule. In addition to that, there is also a vision to ultimately hold a playing tour of the United States.
And given the time the Blackas and Taylor have poured into their vision, it’s little wonder. The competition already has an established social media presence, with a series of targeted, professionally-produced promotional videos already reaching audience of thousands on Facebook.
A website is also established, chronicling the results of each game through the season, while individual player and team stats are also recorded throughout the season.
The SESL franchises are: the Emerald Bears, Clyde Kittens, Dandenong Ducks, Cardinia Crocs, Pakenham Upper Unicorns, Cora Lynn Camels, Nar Nar Goon Bulldogs, Cranbourne Bucks, Kooweerup Koalas, Bunyip Wizards, Harkaway Toucans, Bayside Reapers, Phillip Island Penguins, Beaconsfield Mustangs, Maryknoll Matadors, and the Tooradin Kraken.