After a successful inaugural season for NBL1, the league will have a slightly different look for 2020 with Mount Gambier joining the Basketball Victoria run competition.
The Pioneers will be issued with a one-year licence, in line with the league’s foundation clubs, and will bring a clear point of difference and value to the league.
In the aftermath of the SEABL’s demise, the Pioneers have been through a year of uncertainty with arguably unfair denial of entry to various leagues, as well as a lack of support from the sport’s governing body, Basketball Australia.
“Mount Gambier has put in a power of work over the past 12 months to ensure their club is compliant with NBL1 rules,” said NBL1 General Manager Dean Anglin.
“We have recognised their hard work and are thrilled to welcome the Pioneers into NBL1 for 2020 and hopefully beyond."
It was a sentiment shared by Pioneers President Tom Kosch.
“We couldn’t be happier about entering NBL1 in 2020," said Kosch. “The team at the Pioneers has worked incredibly hard to get to this point, and we look forward to fielding a competitive men’s and women’s squad next season."
Mount Gambier, located in South Australia, has enjoyed tremendous success with their men’s program in recent times and quickly showed that they could establish a highly competitive women’s program in South Australia's Premier League this past season.
“There was a fair point in asking how we could have a women’s team,” Kosch explained to The Pick and Roll back in early August.
“[Basketball Victoria] didn’t recognise the strength and capacity of our club and that we were able to do that though.”
Sustainability was a major concern for Mount Gambier in the Premier League, with their business model built on being in an NBL1 type competition where they can provide South Australian players with a platform to play at the highest level in winter.
“We respect all Adelaide clubs, but the truth is that if we stayed in Adelaide, then in three years we wouldn’t be good enough for Adelaide,” Kosch further outlined.
The Pioneers NBL1 entry has the ability to make the league stronger in terms of talent, with more of the best players outside of the NBL and WNBL playing NBL1. It also moves the league to more of a national competition - something that further establishes the competition as the number one place to play during the winter months.
“We are pleased to welcome Mount Gambier to NBL1,” NBL Chief Operating Officer Andy Crook added.
“It will ensure basketball remains strong in the region and gives more players an opportunity to develop their game and take the next step at the elite level.”
You can read more in depth on the Pioneers and their club’s story here.