NBL1 expands north as national game grows

IN a landmark agreement between the National Basketball League (NBL), NBL1, Basketball Victoria and Basketball Queensland, the 2020 NBL1 competition will be split into two conferences. The current league – with the addition of new side, Mount Gambier Pioneers – will be renamed NBL1 South, while the new league featuring 26 new teams will be based in Queensland and called NBL1 North. The NBL1 North replaces the Queensland Basketball League (QBL) with 13 men’s and 13 women’s sides.

The 13 clubs that have been awarded licences in the NBL1 North are Cairns Marlins (men’s) and Dolphins (women’s), Townsville Heat (men’s) and Flames (women’s), Rockhampton Rockets (men’s) and Cyclones (women’s), Mackay Meteors (men’s) and Meteorettes (women’s), Southern District Spartans, Sunshine Coast Phoenix, University of Sunshine Coast Rip, Brisbane Capitals, Logan Thunder, South West Metro Pirates, Gold Coast Rollers, Ipswich Force and Toowoomba Mountaineers.

NBL Chief Operating Officer Andy Crook said it was an exciting time for Australian basketball.

“We are excited to announce the establishment of NBL1 North and NBL1 South conferences,” Crook said. “This is a genuine partnership between the NBL, Basketball Queensland and Basketball Victoria and we look forward to the great rivalries that’s set to develop between the conferences. “We are also in active discussions with Basketball South Australia, Basketball Western Australia and Basketball New South Wales about introducing the NBL1 concept in those states.”

NBL1 South will tip off on Saturday April 18 while NBL1 North will begin a week later on Friday April 24.

NBL1 South and NBL1 North will hold conference finals in August, before an NBL1 finals series will be played on the first weekend of September with conference champions from NBL1 South and NBL1 North at the State Basketball Centre in Victoria. Further details of the NBL1 finals series will be announced soon.

The NBL1 North logo will have a maroon colour while the NBL1 South logo will be navy blue, creating a connection between the conferences and their main state.

Basketball Queensland Chief Executive and Secretary Graham Burns said the major competition in the Sunshine State was looking forward to holding a highly recognised second tier competition.

“We can’t wait for the inaugural NBL1 North season and look forward to the growth the league will have under the NBL’s banner,” Burns said. “Basketball Victoria and the NBL did an incredible job with NBL1 in 2019 and we are thrilled to be involved and continue the positive momentum.”

Basketball Victoria CEO Nick Honey said the success of NBL1 last season showed the concept was adaptable across the country and he looked forward to the growth of the conference system.

“It’s exciting to see the next phase of NBL1’s expansion begin this year with NBL1 becoming NBL1 South,” Honey said. “From where Basketball Victoria and the NBL started last year, it’s brilliant to see the model expand to other states.”

Last year’s NBL1 competitions were won by Nunawading Spectres and Kilsyth Cobras in the men’s and women’s competition respectively. Geelong Supercats’ Demarcus Gatlin and Bendigo Braves’ Kelly Wilson were named the respective competitions’ Most Valuable Players (MVP).

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