It’s official, an Australian basketball team called the Southern Huskies will be joining the Sal’s NBL in 2019.
A contract has been signed today agreeing to the Australian team’s entry. Chairman of the Sal’s NBL Board, Iain Potter, says this is a ground-breaking and an innovative move.
“We’ve broken new ground with the addition of the Huskies. I believe this is the first time in New Zealand sporting history that an overseas team has joined a New Zealand owned league. On many occasions we have seen New Zealand teams joining Australian leagues, but not the other way around.”
Mr Potter says this step continues the rapid rise for the New Zealand’s oldest professional sporting league, with the Sal’s NBL remerging as a fan favourite in the regions and on our screens. He says the addition of the Huskies will bring a new level of excitement for the increasing number of fans.
“During the 2018 season we again enjoyed a surge in viewership of the free livestream across a number of channels including Maori Television, STUFF, the TAB and of course the NZNBL.basketball website. The addition of the Huskies will fuel that viewership, especially when the trans-Tasman rivalry that Kiwis and Aussies love will be played out every week of the 2019 season,” says Potter.
Huskie’s Chief Executive, Justin Hickey, says he and the Southern Huskies team are very excited to be joining the Sal's NBL in 2019.
“Hitting the floor in 2019 in a league which has grown into an extremely competitive and commercially viable competition, and one that attracts quality players worldwide, is essential to our future success.
“We've assembled an exciting and extremely competitive team, and we're fully committed to accessing the vast talent pool in Tasmania. We're hoping to provide an aspirational team for all basketball prospects to aim for, especially one that enjoys international exposure. Aside from the high quality basketball we're very excited about the opportunities to showcase both Tasmania and New Zealand from a tourism perspective.
“We're working hard to produce a game-night experience the likes of which Sal's NBL and Tasmania haven't seen before. We’re aiming to attract both the basketball and non-basketball audience to what we want to be 'the greatest show in town' each and every game-night.
“We're very much looking forward to fueling the trans-Tasman rivalry and would like to thank Sal's NBL for the opportunity to show what we're made of,” said Mr Hickey today.
Mr Potter says the increased interest and availability of the League is a big part of why the League has enjoyed strong commercial support in recent seasons.
“During the past four years especially we have worked hard to create a strong, entertaining, commercially-attractive and sustainable sports league. We still have a way to go, but the addition is a big endorsement for how good this League is. In part, we have our major sponsor to thank for the League’s growth. Sal’s Authentic New York Pizza has just re-signed for an additional two years with the League, which is a further endorsement for how well this competition is going in New Zealand,” says Mr Potter.
Sal's Authentic New York Pizza Owner and Director Nick Turner agrees that the League is on a roll, and is pleased to support the league in future
"Sal's is extremely excited about signing on again with Basketball New Zealand after such a fantastic season last year with the Sal's NBL. The growth of basketball in New Zealand has been incredible over the past few years and this is highlighted by the inclusion of the Southern Huskies into the Sal's NBL in 2019. We are looking forward to another fun and entertaining season of competition and want to thank Basketball New Zealand and all of the Sal's NBL fans for their support – bring on 2019 and the new trans-Tasman rivalry!"
The 2019 League will see the teams play a home and away series. Every New Zealand team will travel to Hobart to play on one of the Huskies home courts at least once. The Huskies will travel in New Zealand and play every New Zealand team at least once also. They will play double-headers each time they travel.
As part of agreement for entry into the League, the Huskies are assisting with the cost for New Zealand teams to travel to Tasmania to play, which Mr Potter says was essential as the NBL Board did not want to increase the New Zealand teams’ expenses through this move. With the Huskies already significant fan base of close to 6000 Foundation Members and a stadium that seats 5000 people already locked in, it is still a commercially attractive opportunity for the Tasmanian side.
Mr Potter says the Sal’s NBL Board believes the Huskies entry will also add to the Sal’s NBL’s fanbase. The new franchise has already shown themselves to be entrepreneurial in launching a brand, merchandise and selling memberships. Mr Potter says he’s excited to attract an Australian audience to the New Zealand League.
“Undoubtedly the Australian public love sport. They are a sporting nation that gets in behind their teams, attends matches, and considers sport part of their cultural make-up. To have that backing of a team in our League can only be good. Undoubtedly they will be very competitive too, so we think the Huskies are going to be a challenge for the Kiwi teams.”
Mr Potter says the New Zealand based NBL teams have all expressed excitement in the addition of the Huskies and at the possibility of testing themselves against a strong Australian club. At the franchise meeting in August, the addition of the Australian team was discussed, and all the New Zealand teams mandated the NBL Board to continue negotiations and a successful entry of the Huskies.
As part of the player eligibility rules, all the teams in the League are allowed three imports. All teams in the League, including the Huskies, can have a New Zealander as a non-restricted player. The Huskies can have any Kiwi or Australian as an unrestricted player, unless they have played more than 7.5mins in the Australian NBL in the proceeding season.
“The Huskies will have player depth in their roster, undoubtedly,” says Potter. “The Australian population is immense in compassion. We have restricted the ANBL players for that team to make it fairer. But even still, I’m sure we are going to see some stars emerge for the Australians through the Huskies and our League.”
The season starts on Thursday 11 April 2019. The draw is yet to be finalised and released.
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