EVERYTHING is now in place for the Mount Gambier Pioneers to mount a serious push toward an overseas competition into the future.
The Pioneers put in a bid to be included as one of two expansion clubs in the New Zealand NBL competition in 2020, with Canberra the only other Australian side expected to apply.
However, the news came through late on Wednesday Canberra had not placed a bid, leaving Mount Gambier as the only new Australian side to be considered.
The New Zealand NBL plans to have two teams introduced from Australia – one being the Southern Huskies out of Tasmania who joined the competition this season.
There is still plenty of work to do before and if the Pioneers are to play in New Zealand, but at this early stage president Tom Kosch said he is pleased with the response.
“We got a phone call (Wednesday night) and New Zealand Basketball said they want to pursue it further,” he said.
“We are still working through the process and expect to get some questions back from them.
“We will work with the Southern Huskies and New Zealand Basketball, then Basketball Australia to see how real the possibility is.”
The move would need the approval of Basketball Australia, but considering there were no issues with the Huskies joining the league, that should not pose a problem.
“Whatever opportunities exist for Mount Gambier, you would hope Basketball Australia would support that,” Kosch said.
The NZ NBL board released a statement yesterday which suggested general manager Justin Nelson was excited about the opportunity to have such a strong side in their competition.
He noted the success of the club, its professionalism and the rich history of sport in Mount Gambier.
“There is no doubt our application has been seen favourably by New Zealand Basketball,” Kosch said.
“We have obviously been a team that has strived to be the best, but we also have the results to back that up.
“They definitely have interest in us and hopefully we can continue to work with them and work towards something that is pretty exciting.”
Kosch said the Pioneers’ board, players and coaching staff had all provided positive feedback on the new venture.
“It has been eight months in the wilderness for us,” he said.
“We have done a lot of work and there has been a lot of community support to achieve what we have.
“But we do have concerns with the competition we are currently playing in.
“The board and our members and coaching staff have been extremely positive about the opportunity to play on an international stage.”