New Zealand’s Wellington Saints are serious about joining the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL).
Consistent to information divulged to ASEAN Sports last week, the reigning New Zealand National Basketball League (NZBL) champions have indeed communicated their intention to join the Southeast Asian league.
According to a report by Liam Hyslop on Stuff New Zealand, team director of basketball operations Jordan Mills confirmed that they had been working on the move for a few months.
In the article, Mills shared that discussions with ABL Chief Operating Officer Jericho Ilagan ramped up around the time of the team’s championship game last month against the Hawke’s Bay Hawks.
The Saints, led by New Zealand national team head coach Paul Henare and several Tall Blacks, completely took over the NZBL this past season, marching into the final unscathed to win the title with a perfect 20-0 season.
Basketball fans from the Philippines may remember the Saints from their 2015 visit to Manila, when the team participated and finished in second place against the Gilas Pilipinas national team in the MVP Invitational Cup.
While the ABL season (November-May) runs a different calendar from the NZBL (April-July), there is expected to be minimal scheduling conflict.
However, logistics can pose as one of the major hurdles. Wellington, located at the south-western tip of New Zealand’s North Island, is a 12-15 hour travel from most of Southeast Asia.
The next step the Saints would have to take would be to get an approval from both FIBA Asia and Basketball New Zealand, who presumable would want a continued commitment from the team to the NZBL.
Recently, Taiwan’s champion team, the Fubon Braves, announced their official entry into the ABL after leaving the Super Basketball League (SBL), joining last year’s top regular season team, the Formosa Dreamers, as the second active ABL team from Chinese Taipei.
With just about three months to go before the upcoming ABL season opens, it might seem a little rushed with a lot of factors left to figure out, and a move might be more realistic for next year.
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