The Whanganui debut of the HoopNation Junior Showcase has been delayed 11 months, as despite the nation's recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, organisers couldn't fit the window for their June 12-14 tournament.

However, organiser Paul Berridge assures they will be going ahead from 2021 onwards as a four-day Easter Weekend event, which may allow them to expand from the original 36 teams intended.

Before the dark cloud of Covid-19, Berridge and fellow expat Whanganui promoter KJ Allen had announced the tournament for Under 12-16 grades at Springvale Stadium, as an offshoot of the original senior tournament, now called HoopNation Classic, which started at Springvale before being moved to Tauranga five years ago.

Demand was high as all 36 spots were snapped up by teams from Auckland to Wellington in the space of 48 hours.

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Berridge and Allen tried to keep the June 12-14 date open for as long as possible as New Zealand cycled through the various levels of lockdown, but finally announced last week that it was not feasible to meet their obligations, even with restrictions lifting on sports and gatherings of 100 people or less.

"The uncontrollable for us was the logistics of printing the uniforms - that was a 5-6 week lead in," said Berridge.

The drawcard for HoopNation is team's entry fees cover everything from uniforms to game officials and other sundries.

Berridge said their supplier has experianced issues under the lockdown restrictions and would have needed nine weeks to supply the uniforms.

"With the product we wanted to deliver, the reputation that goes with the HoopNation brand, we didn't want to sacrifice that, just so we can have something."

Postponing the event until later this year would have caused scheduling issues with other Basketball New Zealand events, as well as HoopNation Classic, which is still set for its original date in October and will be the tenth anniversary celebration of its founding.

"A lot of those juniors that come to the Junior Showcase are going to be at the Classic," said Berridge.

"We're a little bit gutted we ended up having to cancel it.

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"We want to keep the opportunity of Whanganui alive."

KJ Allen, left and Paul Berridge.
KJ Allen, left and Paul Berridge.

Having planned a "soft launch" this year, moving the tournament to Easter Weekend allows the organisers to consider the next phase of their plans to grow the tournament - perhaps adding an Under 18 Varsity grade to the previous announced six-team Under 12, 14 and 16 divisions

"Four days would make that easier and make the room to have more teams," said Berridge.

As well as the three basketball courts inside Springvale Stadium, Berridge said they may look to utilise a fourth court somewhere else in Whanganui to expand the divisions.

He said they have consulted with their Whanganui stakeholders, who have been understanding of the situation, and hope from Easter 2021 onwards that the tournament will be a boost to the local economy.