It might be showcasing the next generation of players instead of the sport's current stars, but the HoopNation banners are coming home to Whanganui in June.
Almost ten years to the time that expat Whanganui promoters Paul Berridge and KJ Allen created the popular moneyed basketball tournament, and five years after they packed up under a cloud to move it to Tauranga, the pair are coming back in June with another massive three-day event.
HoopNation Junior Showcase will be for 36 teams, larger than the original adult tournaments in Whanganui, focusing on boys and girls youth teams in the Under 12, 14 and 16 divisions.
"It's a break off, satellite tournament from the major one in October," said Berridge yesterday.
"New concept, new format for the games too, that we're introducing, so what better place to do it on a smaller scale, than bringing it home?
"This is something that we've had in the pipeline as part of the HoopNation extension - to have a HoopNation Junior."
Berridge and Allen moved the original HoopNation to Tauranga in 2016 after that City Council offered them $90,000 in event funding over three years, as well as use of the nine-court ASB Arena.
The two local promoters had become frustrated they could not further grow their tournament in the three-court Springvale Stadium beyond 30-odd teams, but did say at the time that a junior version of HoopNation could still work in Whanganui.
Last year's HoopNation in Tauranga, which now has senior and junior grades, hosted over 150 teams over Labour Weekend.
Berridge said the regular Tauranga tournament will still have the same junior age grades as Whanganui event, however this June event will be unique as it will be contested under the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) rules from the United States.
A number of New Zealand teams will travel to compete in Las Vegas in July, so playing domestically under the AAU rules now - which don't allow shot clocks amongst other variations - was a big draw card.
Berridge said after registrations were opened at 6pm on Sunday, they provisionally had 32 of the 36 spots filled within five minutes, with only one vacancy as of yesterday morning.
"News travels quick, when we actually launched the teaser of the new tournament, we got enquiries from Brisbane straight away."
The Brisbane Varsity team will play both the Whanganui and Tauranga HoopNation tournaments this year.
Other teams coming are from Waikato, Tauranga, Taranaki, Manawatu, Hawke's Bay and Auckland, with one local squad also signed up.
The previous HoopNation events in Whanganui had a positive economic impact for the town estimated at $1.6m, and Berridge and Allen wanted to thank Whanganui & Partners for being so receptive to a new version of it coming back.
"A really big step from when we left, which is nice to feel.
"It's exciting as a new chapter, a great opportunity for the local community to see some of the new talent that we've got coming up through the ranks of the game again.
"People are bombarding us already - where is the best place to stay in Whanganui? What does Whanganui have to offer with the activities?
"Definitely, I think all the fast food outlets and Kowhai Park [will be busy].
"The economic benefits, especially for the local business providers, it's just going to put another stake in the ground of why Whanganui is the place to be."
Nonetheless, the pair are adamant that Whanganui still needs to consider the extension of the Springvale and Jubilee stadiums into a larger indoor arena.
"We've always wanted to bring it back home, but it's the same story of the facilities need upgrade," said Berridge.
"The potential [is there] to put a multi-purpose facility, which would be a huge drawcard for the city from multiple events, not just what we do with HoopNation, but other opportunities, whether it be netball, volleyball, secondary school nationals.
"Bringing this tournament home, hopefully sheds some light on the possibilities that are ahead."
HoopNation Junior Showcase will be June 12-14.