There’s a great sense of momentum, and the perception from the average fan in Australia is high now of our league, so there’s a really good vibe. – Andrew Gaze

SALT LAKE CITY — The Sydney Kings' team website is billing its exhibition game against the Utah Jazz Monday night at Vivint Arena as the “Match Up to end all Match Ups.”

While that’s probably overselling a contest that will take place in early October, the occasion is a historic one, as it marks the first time a team from Australia’s National Basketball League will have taken on an NBA squad.

The game is the opening act of a trio of contests between the NBA and NBL over the next two weeks that will also see Melbourne United play the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Brisbane Bullets face the Phoenix Suns.

Kings head coach Andrew Gaze, a legend in Australian basketball who played in five Olympic games and had NBA stints with the old Washington Bullets and the San Antonio Spurs, is confident these contests will have a big impact on hoops in his country, regardless of what the scoreboard may say when the final buzzers sound.

“We’re under no illusions about where we are in comparison to NBA teams, but we feel like the gap is getting smaller, and we hope that these types of experiences will help with our development and help us get to a point where we can legitimately say that we can be competitive on a regular basis with an NBA team,” he said Sunday as his team practiced at the Huntsman Basketball Facility at the University of Utah. “We’re not there yet, but this is the start of the process.”

Perhaps it’s fitting that the Kings made the U. their basketball home since arriving in the Beehive State last week, as the sport has grown exponentially in the Land Down Under since former Runnin’ Ute Andrew Bogut, a native of Melbourne, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft.

Now the number of players in the NBA from Australia is approaching double digits, and Gaze said the league has invested resources in the Australia Institute of Sport in Canberra, a place where Jazzmen Joe Ingles and Dante Exum both spent time as youths.

Additionally, although the NBL’s stability has been somewhat turbulent over the last 20 years, Gaze said the last three have brought better ownership groups, improved marketing efforts and increased attendance at games.

“There’s a great sense of momentum, and the perception from the average fan in Australia is high now of our league, so there’s a really good vibe,” he said.

With the Kings’ NBL season slated to start on Saturday, Gaze acknowledged that the timing of the trip to the United States isn’t ideal for his club, but it was a chance that couldn’t be passed up.

“The opportunity to help promote our game, to promote the game in Australia, promote our league over here, all those things come into the decision-making process, and the reality of it is, it was a no-brainer,” he said. “There’s so many benefits that come from these types of experiences that we need to do the best we can to exploit them.”

Team captain Kevin Lisch, who has dual citizenship in the United States and Australia, said he hopes Monday’s game can, at the very least, serve as a chance for his team to improve in preparation for NBL play.

“It’s kind of uncharted territory, so for us, we’re looking to hopefully get better within ourselves and hopefully be really competitive,” he said. “Whatever that means, I really have no idea, but we’re just looking forward to getting out there and we’re going to give it our best shot, that’s for sure.”

One Kings player who has a direct connection to the Jazz is wing Travis Leslie. In his first campaign in Australia, the former Georgia Bulldog had a 10-day contract with Utah during the 2012-13 season but never played. Following stints in France, Germany, Lithuania and the former D-League last season, Leslie played for the Jazz during summer league before going to Australia.

“Playing against this team I’m familiar with is pretty cool,” he said. “I’m going to try to make a little statement.”