After a successful inaugural season in Victoria, NBL1 has taken another step to become a truly national second tier, conference-based winter competition in 2020 and beyond.
With Basketball Queensland joining forces with the NBL and Basketball Victoria to embrace NBL1 in late October last year, the former QBL will be rebranded NBL North for the 2020 season with maroon the chosen colourway. In a first step to create a national conference NBL1 structure, Basketball Victoria's conference has adopted the South name and the navy blue.
"We are excited to announce the establishment of NBL1 North and NBL1 South conferences," said NBL Chief Operating Officer Andy Crook in the official release.
"This is a genuine partnership between the NBL, Basketball Queensland and Basketball Victoria and we look forward to the great rivalries that’s set to develop between the conferences.
"We are also in active discussions with Basketball South Australia, Basketball Western Australia and Basketball New South Wales about introducing the NBL1 concept in those states."
The Pick and Roll has learned that discussions are well advanced with Basketball Western Australia, Basketball South Australia and Basketball New South Wales, with all three states deliberating on whether to embrace the NBL1 national concept. According to a source, Western Australia and South Australia are likely to adopt the national NBL1 conference structure for the 2021 season, if not sooner, rebranding and reorganising their current state leagues.
If it eventuates, it is expected that the WA conference would be known as NBL1 West, the SA conference NBL1 Central, while a future NSW conference would be branded NBL1 East, each with their own distinct colourway branding.
NBL1 South will tip off on Saturday April 18 while NBL1 North will begin a week later on Friday April 24.
NBL1 South and NBL1 North will hold conference finals in August, before an NBL1 finals series will be played on the first weekend of September with conference champions from NBL1 South and NBL1 North at the State Basketball Centre in Victoria. Further details of the NBL1 finals series is expected to be announced soon by the league office.
Just like the highly successful Basketball Victoria managed NBL1 in 2019, every game of every NBL1 conference in 2020 is set to be live streamed online in a boon for the sport nationally. The Nunawading Spectres defeated the Bendigo Braves for the 2019 NBL1 men's championship, while the Kilsyth Cobras accounted for the Geelong Supercats for the women's title, events which attracted massive online viewership numbers.
According to the NBL, the Victorian managed NBL1 attracted over 284,000 viewers who tuned into the live streamed games online, with every game broadcast via YouTube across the year. This extended to more than 1.6 million views of social media videos posted by NBL1, in addition to more than 108,000 fans attending games. Every re-branded major state league competition in Australia is now set to benefit from the resources the NBL has provided to help facilitate that success in both Victoria and Tasmania via the NBL1 conference competition structure.
The new NBL1 conference system will enable clubs and cities that at one time played in the NBL return to national prominence, including the like of the Gold Coast Rollers (QLD), Geelong Supercats and Frankston Bears (now Blues) from Victoria. If South Australia and New South Wales do buy in to the national concept over the coming year, it would also see the return of more former NBL clubs such as the Forestville Eagles (SA), West Adelaide Bearcats (SA), Bankstown Bruins (NSW) and Newcastle Hunters (NSW).
13 teams across men and women will feature in the NBL1 North conference, while 18 will do battle in NBL1 South in 2020.
Those in the North conference are: Cairns Marlins and Dolphins, Townsville Heat and Flames, Rockhampton Rockets and Cyclones, Mackay Meteors and Meteorettes, Southern District Spartans, Sunshine Coast Phoenix, University of Sunshine Coast Rip, Brisbane Capitals, Logan Thunder, South West Metro Pirates, Gold Coast Rollers, Ipswich Force and Toowoomba Mountaineers.
South conference will feature: Albury-Wodonga Bandits, Ballarat Miners and Rush, Bendigo Braves, Dandenong Rangers, Diamond Valley Eagles, Eltham Wildcats, Frankston Blues, Geelong Supercats, Hobart Chargers, Kilsyth Cobras, Knox Raiders, North West Thunder and Launceston Tornadoes, Melbourne Tigers, Mount Gambier Pioneers, Nunawading Spectres, Ringwood Hawks, Sandringham Sabres and Waverley Falcons.
The Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence will compete in the Waratah League in 2020. Other team movements for the 2020 season include Mount Gambier joining NBL1 South, while the Hobart Chargers are being resurrected in place of the short-lived Hobart Huskies.
"We can’t wait for the inaugural NBL1 North season and look forward to the growth the league will have under the NBL’s banner," said Basketball Queensland Chief Executive and Secretary Graham Burns.
"Basketball Victoria and the NBL did an incredible job with NBL1 in 2019 and we are thrilled to be involved and continue the positive momentum."
It was a feeling echoed by Burns' Victorian counterpart, Nick Honey.
"It’s exciting to see the next phase of NBL1’s expansion begin this year with NBL1 becoming NBL1 South," said Honey.
"From where Basketball Victoria and the NBL started last year, it’s brilliant to see the model expand to other states."
Click here for NBL1 North, NBL1 South logos and fixtures.