NBL owner Larry Kestelman says Tasmania definitely has a case for a team in the NBL. Picture: Getty
NBL owner Larry Kestelman says Tasmania definitely has a case for a team in the NBL. Picture: Getty

Tasmania still firmly on the NBL’s radar

TASMANIA could have a team in the NBL as soon as late next year with league owner Larry Kestelman confirming he is keeping a close eye on the sport in the state.

The NBL will expand to nine teams for the 2019-20 season with South East Melbourne Phoenix entering the competition and Kestelman, who is also executive chairman, is eager to hand out a 10th licence as soon as possible.

Speaking on SEN's Whateley program on Wednesday, Kestelman said "it is part of our DNA to spread the game to all the Australian people" - and Tasmania firmly has a case to be included.

"Tasmania, I do think there is a case, I think it is a matter of everything coming together. I think those sort of markets definitely need their biggest business involvement, which is government," he said.

"I think Tasmania, purely standalone, might be a little bit challenging but I think a combination of real NBL support, local business support, fans and government, I think it is worth seriously considering it.

"I know they love their basketball down there. We have spoken to them. It is definitely in the mix but I think we need to have a conversation with the government about it.

"There is an opportunity, but we need to go through a proper process. This is not a question of do we think or might it work, we will be doing all the work thoroughly to make sure it is a success if it goes in and it has the right backing.

"We don't have a timeline. In a perfect world I would like to see the 10th team come in not next season but the season after."

 

Southern Huskies managing director Justin Hickey. Picture: LUKE BOWDEN
Southern Huskies managing director Justin Hickey. Picture: LUKE BOWDEN

 

Kestelman's comments come as the Southern Huskies prepare to create history by joining the New Zealand NBL - becoming the first Australian team to play in an NZ-based professional competition.

The Huskies, who begin their Kiwi adventure with a three-game road trip starting on April 18, will split their nine home matches between the Derwent Entertainment Centre and Launceston's Silverdome.

The Huskies will also have a presence in the new NBL1 league as Hobart, filling the void left by the Hobart Chargers.

Huskies co-owner Justin Hickey said the club's long-term vision remains the Australian NBL, with their presence in New Zealand a stepping stone to the goal.

"We feel we have a really sound business structure and we can prove that this year in the New Zealand NBL.

"There is no shadow of a doubt that Tasmania can stand alone [in the Australian league], but we are focused on the NBL1 and NZ NBL this year."

Minister for Sport and Recreation Jacquie Petrusma said the State Government would welcome discussions with Kestelman about a pathway towards the NBL.

"It's great to see Tasmanian basketball receiving recognition nationally, and our door is always open to talk about the future of the sport," she said.