Basketball: NBL says no to Tauranga City for the moment

By Dale Budge

Tai Wesley of the Saints makes a break past Tipene Friday of the Rangers. Photo / Photosport
Tai Wesley of the Saints makes a break past Tipene Friday of the Rangers. Photo / Photosport

The Bay of Plenty will have to wait another year for an NBL franchise after the league opted to reject Tauranga City's application for inclusion in the 2017 competition.

While acknowledging that the bid was strong, the NBL board has decided to take a "cautious approach" to expansion and resist the temptation to move too quickly and risk franchises falling over after a season or two.

Instead they will work closely with the Tauranga City bid team towards inclusion for the 2018 season having set a cut-off of April next year for franchises wanting to join for the following season.

"They were very pleased with our bid," Tauranga City general manager Mark Rogers tells herald.co.nz. "The NBL board are being very cautious which I can understand, wanting to make sure the expansion of the league is planned.

"Obviously we were keen to be in for 2017 so now we are working towards 2018. We have a process in place for us now which gives us a longer time frame to get things in place which I guess is the silver lining."

Rogers says there wasn't any one area that caused their 2017 bid to fall over but the initial feedback spoke about taking a wider look at basketball in the region.

"They want us to expand our geographic reach and talk with Waikato and Rotorua about potential involvement," Rogers explains.

"An NBL board member is going to be appointed to be our liaison to go through any detailed stuff that they think needs a bit more background information I suppose.

"There wasn't a lot of detail in the email around this wasn't up to standard or that wasn't up to standard.

"If there was something I am sure they will let us know."

Four other regions had shown interest in applying for inclusion - Otago, North Harbour, Manawatu and Porirua - though all barring Tauranga City opted to delay their applications until at least 2018. The NBL has made it clear they won't expand too quickly meaning only one or two teams will get an opportunity if they meet the criteria.

Rogers believes his bid will have an advantage given how close they got with this process.

"That was part of the reason for our push to make sure we got a bid in for 2017 to make sure we put our foot forward and showed we were keen. We have now got some feedback on that bid which I think gives us an advantage over other potential franchises.

"We submitted a document which we had positive feedback on albeit de didn't get it across the line."

Rogers says the knock back hasn't dented their eagerness to get a team in the future.

"No definitely not. Part of our long term vision for our region is having a pathway for our players and that is a logical step - having an NBL franchise.

"One of the things we have to look at is to see how wide an approach we can take within our region whether that is involvement from Rotorua and Waikato. That is a discussion we will have. We have had some fairly informal ones already but that is something we will work on now."

- NZ Herald

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