It has increased nearly 10 times in size since it began but the men behind New Zealand's biggest pro-am basketball tournament HoopNation are not surprised.

In fact, it's been their vision since they started planning the tournament.

This year co-founders of the tournament, Tauranga's Paul Berridge and Ohakune's KJ Allen, have put on their biggest competition yet with more than 1300 athletes in 143 teams, playing more than 380 games of basketball on 12 courts at five venues across Tauranga over four days this long weekend.

That's far from the days of their first event, held in Whanganui with just 15 teams in 2011. Eventually, Allen says they outgrew Whanganui and moved to Tauranga in 2016.


But the HoopNation idea came well before that.

It was the brainchild of both Allen and Berridge born after nine months of planning and strategising.

It was designed as a way to honour their close friend Billie-Jo Thompson who died in Sydney in 2009.

"It reunited Paul and myself because Paul came back with her body from Sydney then, after her tangi, we talked about something we could do for her," Allen says.

"We were going to put on a memorial game but we sat down and said 'let's put on something that hasn't been done before in the country' and so that took us nine months to write and then when we looked at it, it was a thick manual because we allowed ourselves to dream," Allen says.

He says they wanted to do more than hold a tournament.

They also wanted to lift basketball in the country and "aimed right from the beginning to be the biggest basketball event brand in Australiasia".

Of course, he says, there were those who doubted their vision.


"But for ourselves you know, if we're not speaking the vision, we don't believe it, so we started speaking the vision right from the beginning because we believe it.

"After we put the manual together it was a bit overwhelming so we took a break from that ... we thought it was a bit too big, where do we start?."

Soon after, Berridge attended a tournament in Stratford and enjoyed it, which Allen says prompted the push they needed to get back to their plan.

Allen says Berridge came back and proclaimed "If we do 10 per cent of what we wrote it's a great place to start".

"So we started off in Whanganui with 15 teams and only had 10 per cent of what we wrote about, but we've always been player focused and fan focused. It's always been our value."

He says they've always told themselves they will measure their success based on how participants walk away from their event and considering the tournament continues to grow, it seems athletes are happy.

This past weekend has been no different.

Though a busy one for Berridge, Allen and their HoopNation team, Allen says feedback from participants across all divisions this weekend has been positive, and knowing that those taking part are enjoying themselves makes all the hard work worth it.

"It's been an amazing event ... It's just been a wonderful celebration of basketball."