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)
Upcoming season or competition:
Current sports event 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 champion(s) Southland Sharks (2nd title)
Most titles Auckland Pirates (10 titles)
TV partner(s) Sky Sport
Level on pyramid 1
Official website New Zealand NBL

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

Seven clubs will compete in the 2016 season with teams based in Auckland, Christchurch, Invercargill, Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth and Wellington.[1] The Christchurch Cougars voluntarily sat out from 2011 to 2013 due to the financial implications of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The resurrected Canterbury Rams returned to the league in 2014.

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.

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.

Televised games stopped following the 2007 season when TVNZ's television rights were sold to Sky TV. Games were originally shown once a week but due to lack of demand, only playoff games were shown mainly due to Super Rugby, National Rugby League (NRL) and ANZ Championship games clashing with game times and a high interest by the public in those competitions. Highlights and interviews of the Southland Sharks have been shown on Cue TV.


Through the 1970s, games 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 New Zealand National 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 starred in the early years of competition. Imported players like Clyde Huntley, Angelo Hill, Frank Smith, Kerry Boagni, Willie Burton, Ronnie Joyner, Benny Anthony, Kenny McFadden, Tyrone and Tony Brown added a level of sophistication and style to the Kiwi basketball scene.

The big city teams such as the Auckland Rebels, Canterbury Rams and Wellington Saints dominated in 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 the Rebels then 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, many thought the league would become much weaker but it proved the opposite as only the best New Zealanders and imports were selected due to the small size of the league at the time. The league continued to improve with higher calibre players joining the league. High school standouts, like former North Harbour Kings player Kirk Penney, chose to play in the league until they left to play college basketball.

When the New Zealand Breakers were founded in 2003, Kiwi players found an incentive to continue playing in the NZNBL in hopes of being rewarded with an ANBL contract. Players like Dillon Boucher, Lindsay Tait, Pero Cameron, Phill Jones, Mark Dickel and Paora Winitana became household names in New Zealand and Australian basketball circles.

Current clubs[edit]

Former and defunct clubs[edit]

Competition format[edit]

The ten teams in the New Zealand NBL play 18 regular season fixtures, with each side playing each other once at their home arena and also once away at their opponents' venue. At the end of the regular season, the top ranked team plays the fourth ranked team, and the team which finished second hosts the third ranked team. The winners of these two semi-final matches progress onto the grand final.

Broadcasting details[edit]

In 2003, the NBL signed a deal with TVNZ for TV 2 to become the official "home of hoops." In 2005, games that were televised included a Friday night NBL fixture that was shown at 10:30 pm. In 2006, TV 2 televised the game of the round at 11:30 am on Saturdays. The semi-final and grand final fixtures were also shown live. In addition to this, TV 2 often had live coverage of the Tall Blacks games played in New Zealand.

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 Breakers. Many of the NZNBL clubs 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, Paora Winitana, Pero Cameron, Mark Dickel, Phill Jones, Ed Book, Thomas Abercrombie, Alex Pledger and Mika Vukona.


List of Champions[edit]

Since its beginning and to the present day, Auckland has been the benchmark of the NZNBL. They have won the most titles out of any team: 10. Next best is Wellington with 8, then Canterbury (4), Waikato (4), Nelson (3), Hutt Valley (2), Southland (2), and Hawke's Bay (1).[8]

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 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


See also[edit]


External links[edit]