One of Australia's most successful basketball clubs has confirmed its interest in joining the Sal's NBL in season 2020. A dominant force for many years in the now defunct SEABL competition, the Mt Gambier Pioneers has been announced as the second Australian entity that has been taking part in the current Formal Bid process to join the NZNBL next season.
Following a full NBL Board meeting in Wellington on Wednesday June 12, it has also been confirmed that three of the six entities invited to make a Formal Bid had delivered the required documents by the deadline.
Sal's NBL General Manager Justin Nelson has confirmed Mt Gambier (Australia), Basketball Otago and Franklin Basketball had presented all the documentation being sought and all three are now under consideration for joining the competition. Nelson also confirmed that the interest shown from Canberra (Australia) and a further two entities on New Zealand's north island had failed to lodge their bid and subsequently have been withdrawn from the process.
"The NBL Board met yesterday and discussed three bids, all of which were well presented and covered a variety of areas that we have deemed as important for entry into the league and importantly, long term sustainability and success," said Nelson.
"The assessment was very thorough and out of that meeting we will be going back to Mt Gambier, Otago and Franklin with further questions. All three remain in the process and we are confident of meeting our timeline of making a formal announcement at the Final 4 in July, or the following week after the event.
"It is important we get this right and adhere to the league's 2023 growth strategy which clearly identifies the optimum model as being 10 to 12 teams, including two teams from Australia."
Nelson said he has already reached out to the three entities no longer involved in the process and thanked them for their interest.
"It's great for the Sal's NBL to have widespread interest from teams wanting to join the competition, however the criteria for inclusion is advancing rapidly, the demands are higher than ever and we are very focused on raising the bar to ensure we continue working towards delivering a great product, week in and week out," said Nelson.
"Our next steps are to seek some further information from Mt Gambier, Otago and Franklin with a view to completing our assessment in the coming weeks. We remain confident of delivering a final decision at the Final 4 in July, or the week after that."
News broke late Wednesday that Mt Gambier, located in South Australia, had publicly announced it was the second Australian entity involved in the Formal Bid process. The confirmation was met with excitement by Nelson.
"The Pioneers have been a leading team in basketball during the winter months in Australia and through the change from SEABL to NBL1 this year they were left in limbo, which despite their incredible success no doubt was a bit of a shock. The Pioneers board and staff have been incredibly professional in the way they have worked with us and they have presented a very strong case for inclusion in the NZNBL," said Nelson.
"Like the Southern Huskies, the Pioneers must gain approval by Basketball Australia to play in the NZNBL and we are confident that Basketball Australia, like they did with the Huskies, will look favourably on the Pioneers and help deliver an opportunity to play in a competition that befits their experience, success, ambitions and professional management."
Excitingly, the Pioneers also confirmed in their submission the development of a new stadium in the near future.
"Mt Gambier has a rich history in sport, and particularly in basketball. The whole region loves the Pioneers and supports them passionately. It is great to hear there is a $40m investment underway towards a new indoor facility."
For further information on the NZNBL Formal Bid Process, contact the League on 027 202 0070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org