National Basketball League (New Zealand)

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For other organizations with a similar name, see National Basketball League (disambiguation) and NBL (disambiguation).
National Basketball League (NBL)
Most recent season or competition:
2016 New Zealand NBL season
Basketball New Zealand Logo
Sport Basketball
Founded 1982
Inaugural season 1982
CEO Iain Potter
President Sam Rossiter-Stead
No. of teams 7
Country  New Zealand
Continent FIBA Oceania (Oceania)
Most recent
Wellington Saints (9th title)
Most titles Auckland Pirates (10 titles)
Level on pyramid 1
Official website New Zealand NBL

The National Basketball League (NBL) is the pre-eminent men's basketball league in New Zealand.

Seven teams competed in the 2016 season with teams based in Auckland, Christchurch, Invercargill, Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth and Wellington.[1]

Despite financial woes forcing a number of teams over the past decade to fold, the quality of play in the league continues to improve, evidenced by more New Zealand players going on to play in the Australian National Basketball League (ANBL) and college basketball in the United States. Some have even gone on further to make the NBA, such as Steven Adams, and former North Harbour Kings star Kirk Penney. The league has a limit of two imports per team with many of the imports coming from the United States. The league also only allows one naturalised New Zealand player per team.

In the league's early days, Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury dominated the competition. By the mid-1990s, Auckland and Nelson were the teams to beat, with New Zealand basketball legends Pero Cameron and Phill Jones dominating during this era for Auckland and Nelson, respectively. Auckland and Waikato dominated during the 2000s, but with Auckland's departure following the 2012 season, the door was left open for Wellington and Southland to fill the void of the league's premier teams.


Through the 1970s, basketball games in New Zealand were organised between neighbouring representative teams, or in annual tournaments organised as club or provincial national tournaments. Other competitions were also held during Easter tournaments or in small regional leagues. The Countrywide Basketball League began in 1982 in response to a need for consistent and quality competition on a semi-professional basis, to match the structure and improvements occurring in Australia. Tall Blacks such as Stan Hill, Dave Edmonds, Glen Denham, Byron Vaetoe, Peter Pokai and Tony Smith were important cogs during the early years of the competition. However, Americans dominated the league during the 1980s. Imported players like Clyde Huntley, Angelo Hill, Frank Smith, Kerry Boagni, Willie Burton, Ronnie Joyner, Benny Anthony, Tyrone and Tony Brown, and Kenny McFadden added a level of sophistication and style to the Kiwi basketball scene.

The big city teams such as Auckland, Canterbury and Wellington dominated in the early years, but when the Hutt Valley Lakers won 1991 and 1993, the star players began to spread out. The Nelson Giants won their first championship in 1994 and Auckland became the first team to win three titles in a row from 1995–97. After the Waitakere Rangers, Hutt Valley Lakers and Northland Suns left in the late 1990s, the league's level of competitiveness took a hit.

The mid-1990s saw a shift in the skill level of the New Zealand players. Star players like Pero Cameron and Phill Jones began to lead their respective squads to success, as teams began to rely more heavily on New Zealanders than ever before. By the early 2000s, the league implement the one-import rule so as to limit the American domination on the league, and with the formation of the New Zealand Breakers in 2003, Kiwi players found an incentive to continue playing in the NZNBL in hopes of being rewarded with an ANBL contract. Players like Pero Cameron, Phill Jones, Dillon Boucher, Lindsay Tait, Mika Vukona, Pāora Winitana and Paul Henare became household names in New Zealand and Australian basketball circles.

Current teams[edit]

Former and defunct teams[edit]

Imports in the league[edit]

The New Zealand NBL allows each side to play with two non-New Zealand citizens (imports or restricted players). From 2001 to 2003, however, the league believed that overseas players were detracting from giving New Zealand-born players significant minutes and playing time in the league and as a result, one import only was permitted per side. In the past, the NBL sides have usually relied on Americans to fill their import player positions. In 2004, the trend of using American imports started to change with New Zealand gaining an ANBL side in the New Zealand Breakers. Many of the NZNBL teams began to use Australians as their imports, as the ANBL does not run at the same time as the NZNBL.

New Zealanders in the league[edit]

Many New Zealanders who play for the New Zealand Breakers and the national side, the Tall Blacks, have played in the NBL since its inception. In recent years, many of these players have dominated in the local New Zealand league. Examples have been Dillon Boucher, Lindsay Tait, Aaron Olson, Paul Henare, Pāora Winitana, Pero Cameron, Mark Dickel, Phill Jones, Ed Book, Thomas Abercrombie, Alex Pledger, Mika Vukona and Corey Webster.

Broadcasting details[edit]

In March 2016, Basketball New Zealand, the NZNBL, and New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME) announced that two weekly NBL games will be livestreamed free of charge on throughout the 2016 season.[8]


List of Champions[edit]

During its time in the competition, Auckland was the benchmark of the NBL. They have won the most titles out of any team: 10. Next best is Wellington with 9, then Canterbury (4), Waikato (4), Nelson (3), Hutt Valley (2), Southland (2), and Hawke's Bay (1).[9]

Year NBL Champion Result Runner-up
1982 Auckland Waitemata
1983 Auckland Wellington Saints
1984 Wellington Saints Auckland
1985 Wellington Saints 114 – 111 Auckland
1986 Canterbury Rams 87 – 82 Wellington Saints
1987 Wellington Saints Canterbury Rams
1988 Wellington Saints 81 – 78 North Shore
1989 Canterbury Rams 91 – 83 Auckland
1990 Canterbury Rams 76 – 73 Nelson Giants
1991 Hutt Valley Lakers Wellington Saints
1992 Canterbury Rams 79 – 71 Palmerston North Jets
1993 Hutt Valley Lakers Canterbury Rams
1994 Nelson Giants Canterbury Rams
1995 Auckland Stars Hawke's Bay Hawks
1996 Auckland Stars 2 – 1 Nelson Giants
1997 Auckland Rebels Nelson Giants
1998 Nelson Giants 81 – 73 North Harbour Kings
1999 Auckland Rebels 79 – 72 Canterbury Rams
2000 Auckland Rebels 95 – 78 Nelson Giants
2001 Waikato Titans 112 – 97 Wellington Saints
2002 Waikato Titans 85 – 83 Nelson Giants
2003 Wellington Saints 97 – 88 Waikato Titans
2004 Auckland Stars 80 – 68 Nelson Giants
2005 Auckland Stars 69 – 68 Hawke's Bay Hawks
2006 Hawke's Bay Hawks 84 – 69 Auckland Stars
2007 Nelson Giants 2 – 0 Hawke's Bay Hawks
2008 Waikato Pistons 2 – 0 Wellington Saints
2009 Waikato Pistons 2 – 0 Nelson Giants
2010 Wellington Saints 2 – 1 Waikato Pistons
2011 Wellington Saints 106 – 97 Hawke's Bay Hawks
2012 Auckland Pirates 89 – 83 Wellington Saints
2013 Southland Sharks 92 – 81 Nelson Giants
2014 Wellington Saints 85 – 69 Hawke's Bay Hawks
2015 Southland Sharks 72 – 68 Wellington Saints
2016 Wellington Saints 94 – 82 Super City Rangers


See also[edit]


External links[edit]