Southern Huskies to join New Zealand league while waiting for NBL gig

Updated December 05, 2018 20:09:32

A desire to give its fans a tangible team to cheer for has led the Southern Huskies to enter the New Zealand National Basketball League from next season.

  • Key points

  • Southern Huskies gain NZ licence while waiting for NBL spot
  • Team will travel across Tasman four times a year
  • Part of strategy to put “tangible” team on court

The Huskies have been granted a five-year licence to play in the competition after being knocked back for the Australian National Basketball League (NBL), meaning the start-up club will become the first overseas team to compete in the league.

“Playing in a level slightly below the NBL, and above the now defunct SEABL (South-East Australian Basketball League), was an opportunity too good to pass up,” said Huskies bankroller Mike Sutton.

“It’s an opportunity to be playing for the thousands of people who are supporting our club and cheering for a team that didn’t really exist until this week.”

But the Huskies remain adamant their Australian NBL bid is still “full steam ahead”.

If it is granted a licence, it plans to compete in both Australian and New Zealand competitions, using its NZNBL team as a feeder team to its NBL side.

However, chief executive Justin Hickey said it could not enter the Australian NBL without owning its own stadium.

“We’re in a really good position to get in for 2020 or 2021 if we have a plan to own our own stadium,” he said.

“Definitely the plan is to raise the money and build our own. We need to own our own destiny in the next three to five years.”

Despite falling out with the Glenorchy City Council over the purchase of the Derwent Entertainment Centre, the Huskies are likely to play their Hobart-based NZNBL games at the venue.

They are also confident of playing games at the Launceston Silverdome.

As it stands, the club will travel to New Zealand four times during the season which runs from April to August, and play double-header fixtures to reduce travel costs.

“Logistically, it’s not easy. It’s probably harder for the New Zealand guys to get over here with international flights and domestic connections,” Hickey said.

“It’s pretty expensive. But the positives far outweigh the negatives.”

With the Huskies taking the court in 2019, the ramifications for reigning SEABL championship club the Hobart Chargers are already being felt.

The Huskies are in talks with star Chargers trio Craig Moller, Mathiang Muo and Tre Nichols and have already signed Chargers championship coach Anthony Stewart to lead the team.

It’s meant one of the Huskies’ original proponents in David Bartlett, who also acts as president of the Chargers, has been forced to pick sides.

“I came to the conclusion that I can’t wear both hats, I need to represent one or the other. I can’t be a decision-maker in both organisations,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett is likely to be re-elected as Chargers president at tomorrow night’s annual general meeting.

The Southern Huskies have already signed Adelaide 36er and NBA prospect Harry Froling and North West Thunder guard Mason Bragg.

Topics: basketball, sport, hobart-7000, tas

First posted December 05, 2018 17:35:02

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