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NZ NBL Ready to RollTweet
THE massive success of the NBL this season looks likely to have a psoitive spin-off effect on New Zealand's national league, which tips off this week.
Increased coverage and media interest reflects the surge in interest in all levels of the game from New Zealanders.
The NZ-NBL sees the same seven teams return for a tilt at the title, with Basketball New Zealand resisting (for now) overtures for further expansion.
It's clearly on the table for future seasons, with Tauranga putting a strong case for inclusion over the off-season and increasing talk out of both the Manawatu and Otago that they too might be keen to return to the fold at some time in the future.
Tauranga's facilities are magnifient.
HE'S BACK: Superstar Corey Webster returns to the NZ-NBL.
All eyes for now however are on the 2017 NZ-NBL and its seven contenders, beginning this Thursday with two of the traditional powerhouses going head-to-head at one of the league’s best all-round venues, Southland Sharks hosting Nelson Giants at ILT Stadium Southland.
The game will be live-streamed via the NZ Herald website, with delayed coverage on Maori Television going to air on Saturday.
That coverage reflects the plan for the entire season, with at least two games per week live-streamed by The NZ Herald on BasketballTV.co.nz and one game shown live on Maori Television on Sunday afternoon at 3pm, as well as one game replayed on Saturday afternoon at 3pm.
The hugely popular Final Four weekend will be broadcast live in both formats, giving fans around the country the chance to see the best teams in the league battle to find the 2017 champion.
Chief Executive of Basketball New Zealand, Iain Potter, says this unique media partnership recognises the growth of basketball in New Zealand, as more participants and fans are tuning their televisions and devices to the game.
“It's an exciting agreement to have two strong media partners with big audiences recognising their viewers are increasingly tuning into basketball," he said.
"It's sensational for the NBL and Basketball New Zealand, as our players, teams and brands are building on the increasing upsurge of Kiwi fanaticism in basketball."
LOOK OUT! Multiple NBL championship winner at Perth, Jarrod Kenny, is back for the NZ-NBL.
The quality of the teams also is a reflection of the growth in the league in recent years, with a number of teams boasting rosters that would not be out of place in the NBL.
As always, imports are a talking point, with players coming from Great Britain, Kenya, Australia and the usual supply line out of the US.
Their ability to lift those around them and lead their teams at both ends of the floor will likely be critical to the outcome of many games.
But so too will the locals as experienced players such as Dillon Boucher (Super City Rangers), Lindsay Tait (Super City Rangers), Everard Bartlett (Bay Hawks), and Hayden Allen (Southland Sharks) keep the younger brigade honest while imparting their years of experience and knowledge, and perhaps at times, schooling the opposition with their wily ways.
Look too for that next generation to make their mark.
After a breakout campaign with the SKYCITY Breakers, Finn Delany (Nelson Giants) will look to light up the league with his high energy game, while Derone Raukawa (Southland Sharks), Ethan Rusbatch (Canterbury Rams), Shea Ili (Wellington Saints), Sam Dempster (Nelson Giants) and Jordan Ngatai (Wellington Saints) were among those selected to the New Zealand Select and Tall Blacks teams last year after superb NZ-NBL campaigns.
The 2017 NBL season will run for 14 weeks and finish with the Final Four weekend on June 15-17, with the venue yet to be confirmed.
NZ-NBL Round One
Thursday March 16
SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks v Mike Pero Nelson Giants, ILT Stadium Southland 7pm, live-streaming, delayed Maori TV (Saturday)
Friday March 17
Wellington Saints v Taylor Hawks, TSB Arena 7pm, live-streaming
Saturday March 18
James Blond Supercity Rangers v Canterbury Rams, Trusts Arena 7pm, live-streaming
Mike Pero Nelson Giants v Taranaki Mountainairs, Trafalgar Centre 7pm
Sunday March 19
Taylor Hawks v Canterbury Rams, Pettigrew Green Arena 3pm, live-streaming, live Maori Television