Melbourne 'Throwdown' to open 2019/20 NBL season

South East Melbourne Phoenix players will get their first taste of the NBL on October 3, 2019 Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

The NBL has set itself for a blockbuster start to season 2019/20 in scheduling a new era of the Melbourne derby for opening night.

Competition new boys South East Melbourne Phoenix will take their NBL bow against inter-city rivals and 2018/19 runners-up Melbourne United on October 3 in a match dubbed "The Throwdown."

"The Throwdown between Melbourne United and South East Melbourne will re-ignite the massive Melbourne rivalries of the '90s and will be an historic opening to what shapes as the NBL's biggest season ever," NBL Chief Executive Jeremy Loeliger said.

"The Throwdown" is one of a few early season highlights in the NBL draw, with American imports and future NBA hopefuls RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball to do battle a couple of weeks later when New Zealand Breakers host Illawarra Hawks at Spark Arena in Auckland on October 24.

Hampton will play his first NBL game the week before on October 18 when the Breakers face Sydney Kings and reigning MVP Andrew Bogut.

Meanwhile, Canberra will have the chance to see Ball in action with the Hawks to take two games to the Australian capital across the 2019/20 season.

The league has otherwise structured its season's biggest games around key event dates and public holidays like the Melbourne Cup, Australian Open, New Year's Eve and Australia Day.

"We saw record attendances and broadcast audiences last season and we hope this will be another record-breaking season," Loeliger said.

"We will see the return of big name stars such as Andrew Bogut after his NBA stint with Golden State Warriors and quality imports including Bryce Cotton, Casper Ware, Melo Trimble and Shawn Long.

"Adelaide will play in a new venue, we will have two games in Canberra and highly rated NBA prospects in RJ Hampton, LaMelo Ball, Terry Armstrong and Didi Louzada joining the league as part of our Next Stars program.

"With the Boomers to play the USA in August followed by the FIBA World Cup in China in September, there's never been a more exciting time for basketball in Australia and New Zealand."

Season 2019/20 will total 126 games - 14 more than last year - with each team to play 28 regular season matches.

The nine clubs will play four teams four times with two games at home and two away. They will play the remaining four teams three times across the season with games split between home and away.