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Pioneers to sail across Tasman


MULTIPLE SEABL champion Mt Gambier Pioneers - the club left out in the cold when the new NBL1 competition was devised - has followed the lead of Tasmania's Southern Huskies and nominated for the NZ-NBL next year.

It's a bold and clever move by the club which was abandoned by Basketball Australia, Basketball Victoria and the NBL when SEABL was replaced by NBL1.

Following a full NZ-NBL Board meeting in Wellington, it was confirmed three of the six clubs invited to make formal bids had delivered the required documents by the deadline, Mt Gambier Pioneers, Basketball Otago and Franklin Basketball now all under consideration for the 2020 competition.

"The (NZ) NBL Board met 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," league general manager Justin Nelson said.

"The assessment was very thorough and 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."

One of the other inquiries came from Canberra.

The Pioneers, winners of SEABL men's championships in 2003, 2014, 2015 and 2017 were included in South Australia's Premier League for the 2019 season.

The men's team currently is third with an 11-3 win-loss record and its newly-formed women's team also third with a 9-5 record.

PREMIER PLAY: Mt Gambier's Tom Daly squaring off against his former club Sturt this year.

"The expansion of our program to include a women’s team in the Premier League in 2019 has been positive," the Pioneers said in a club statement yesterday.

"The expansion has been met with outstanding community support for both the men and women’s programs.

"Despite the success so far, the long-term sustainability of competing within the Premier League is of significant concern to the club on a number of levels. There is significant uncertainty as to whether Basketball Victoria will be prepared to expand its newly-established ‘NBL1’ competition to include teams from outside Victoria and Tasmania.

"An exciting opportunity has presented itself for the club’s board to make an application to New Zealand Basketball for the Pioneers to enter the NZ-NBL in season 2020.

"An advisory committee from the Pioneers is continuing to work with the NZ-NBL and the Southern Huskies to establish whether the NZ-NBL is a legitimate option which will ensure the club's long-term future.

"The Pioneers have advised Basketball Australia of our formal bid.

"BA authorisation will be required to compete within the NZ-NBL should the club be accepted. This same authorisation was provided by Basketball Australia to the ‘Southern Huskies’."

The NZ-NBL looks very likely to accept Mt Gambier, which would be huge for the city, the region, the league and the sport.

"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," Nelson said.

"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."

READY TO GO: Mt Gambier Pioneers may have found their long-term future across the Tasman.

Jun 13

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