THE Mount Gambier Pioneers Basketball Club could soon become an international team, with the club in discussions with the NBL across the “ditch”.
With its long-term future still up in the air in Australia, the club has held talks with Basketball New Zealand regarding entry into its own NBL competition for 2020.
As it sits, the NZ NBL has taken on one Australian expansion club – the Southern Huskies out of Tasmania – and hopes to have another in place for next year.
The Pioneers have taken the opportunity to apply for the competition, but at the time of going to print the finer details were still unknown.
Pioneers’ president Tom Kosch said with no certainty regarding a position in the new Australian NBL1 competition – formerly SEABL – the club had little choice but to explore all options.
“Basketball Victoria and Basketball Australia have not given us much certainty for the future,” he said.
“We have had ongoing discussions with them and an application (to NBL1) would be made available in August, as it was at the end of last year, but no guarantee of Mount Gambier’s entry has been given.
“The Pioneers’ board is just doing all it can to preserve the club for the long term.”
Kosch said the sustainability of competing in the South Australian Premier League was of concern to the board, considering costs and the ability to compete.
With doubts about the future of the club last season, many of the players on the men’s roster chose to pursue other options.
Kosch said they do not want to see that happen again.
“Our ability to be competitive beyond 2019 is difficult, given a large portion of our men’s team and also the women’s team could explore opportunities at higher levels of competition,” he said.
“It is also unknown at this point in time, given the Pioneers are mitigating travel for all of the Adelaide clubs to Mount Gambier, whether that is sustainable long term.
“That is very questionable.
“Basically we have built a program based on competitiveness and now we have to keep all options open for the long term.”
Should the application to play in New Zealand come to fruition, Kosch said the Pioneers’ board would start the ball rolling and look at ways to make it work.
“If it is something they want to pursue as Mount Gambier being the second licence in Australia, we would begin working with the New Zealand NBL and the Southern Huskies as to whether it is a real possibility,” he said.
“Representatives of the Pioneers met with the Southern Huskies last week in Tasmania and discussed ways we may be able to assist with travel between Mount Gambier, Tasmania and New Zealand to make it possible.
“New Zealand would look to play double headers when they come out to Australia – one in Tasmania and one in Mount Gambier – and we would play two games when we go to New Zealand, plus one game over in Tasmania.”
Kosch said the season would include four trips to New Zealand and one trip to Tasmania.
“There is substantial cost involved in doing that,” Kosch said.
“The actual details of how that would work is yet to be confirmed.”
Kosch said the New Zealand option would provide a strong competition for Mount Gambier to be a part of.
“The New Zealand NBL is a really talented competition,” he said.
“For instance at the moment they have Cam Gliddon, Todd Blanchfield and Daniel Kickert all playing, who are Australian Boomers.
“It is currently a nine-team competition and comprises of teams on the north and south islands.
“It is very comparable to the SEABL of old – some would say it is a higher level.”
Further updates will be published as they come to hand.