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BA had no option with NZ NBL

IF in doubt - blame Basketball Australia. Chances are you will be right.

That's been the fallback position for pretty much everyone in Australian basketball for decades and, let's face it, often those making that call have been proven correct.

Not today though.

BA's extremely unpopular decision to prevent Mount Gambier's highly successful basketball program from next year following the lead of Tasmania's Southern Huskies and joining the New Zealand National Basketball League, was, unfortunately, inevitable.

As great an idea that it was and is, and considering how many problems it may additionally have solved for BA too, the fact is the game's governing body has an agreement with the NBL which recognises it as the only professional league in Australia.

As such, there are regulations that govern what other leagues can play games in any more than one state or territory in Australia. With NZ NBL (away) games already being played in Tasmania, a second state (or territory) could not legally join that competition.

It undoubtedly is a massive blow for the Pioneers, who were a dominant club in the now defunct SEABL competition, but did not receive an invitation to join the inaugural NBL-Basketball Victoria-run NBL1 competition.

The Pioneers hastily formed a women's team and were admitted for the 2019 season into South Australia's Premier League. But Mount Gambier at no stage made any secret of the fact this year in the SAPL would be a "one off" while it sought entry into a second-tier competition such as NBL1 or the NZ NBL.

The NZ NBL granted Mount Gambier permission to join its competition in 2020 but the BA rubber stamp was not forthcoming, and nor could it be, given the circumstances of its agreement with NBL.

Whether the NBL could have looked upon the Pioneers' bid to play games on both sides of the Tasman as of minor significance - it's not as if Mount Gambier has any NBL aspirations or delusions - is a different issue.

But, given all the positive attention and excitement the NBL is generating for basketball in Australia, not diluting its serious commercial investment in the game also is completely understandable.

While the decision now leaves the Pioneers' future pending, the club's development of a women's program and willingness to play home matches away from what once was an exclusive Friday-night scenario, is likely to make NBL1 far more receptive to any renewed bid by the club to join that second-tier competition in 2020.

Jul 5

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