Wellington Saints

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Wellington Saints
Wellington Saints logo
League National Basketball League
Founded 1981
History Wellington Saints
Arena TSB Bank Arena
Location Wellington, New Zealand
Team colours Blue & white
CEO Nick Mills
President Justin Toebes
General manager Fran Scholey
Head coach Kevin Braswell
Ownership Nick Mills
Championships 9 (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2003, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016)
Website Saints.co.nz
Kit body vneckwhite.png
Home jersey
Kit shorts white stripes.png
Team colours
Kit body.png
Away jersey
Kit shorts.png
Team colours

The Wellington Saints are a New Zealand basketball team based in Wellington. The Saints compete in the National Basketball League (NBL) and play their home games at TSB Bank Arena.

Team history[edit]


In 1968, Father Terry O'Neil suggested to a tight-knit Senior 'A-team' that they form a St. Pat's Old Boys' Basketball Club. The newly formed club proved healthy competition to the established Marist Club, which became a healthy rivalry and an exciting competition for fans. In 1979, plans were beginning to form in order to start a National Basketball League in New Zealand. The established Marist Club and the Old Boys' Club began to look for a Physical Education teacher to coach both teams. Well-known American Fred Sawaya was appointed, becoming the first imported basketball coach.[1]

Early years[edit]

By the time the National League started in 1981, a strong men's team was ready for action. The powerful new club was officially named "the Saints" after it was strengthened by amalgamation of four St. Pat's teams and 12 Southern Basketball Club teams. In 1982, the Exchequer Saints won the second division title with the help of American import Kenny McFadden, promoting them to the first division for the 1983 season. From there on, the Saints built a dynasty in the 1980s, collecting four championships (1984, 1985, 1987 & 1988) and were runners-up in 1983 and 1986. McFadden was named most outstanding guard in 1983 and 1984 after leading the league in scoring both years. McFadden's performance during the 1980s was acknowledged in 2012 by his No. 5 jersey becoming the first in the NBL to be retired.[2]


The 1990s held dwindling fortunes for the Saints. Following the conclusion of the 1996 season, both the Capital Power Saints and the Hutt Valley Lakers were struggling to survive. They amalgamated for the 1997 season and became TransAlta Wellington after gaining naming rights sponsorship from energy company TransAlta. However, fans of the team wanted a 'real' name and so, for the 1998 season, they became the TransAlta Wizards. Even this wasn't strong enough for the fans and so, for the 1999 season, they returned to the original identity and became the Wellington Saints.[3]

Return to powerhouse team[edit]

The Saints returned to title contenders in the early 2000s, as they finished runners-up in 2001 and won their fifth title in 2003. The Saints stumbled through the rest of the decade before becoming the powerhouse team in 2010 following the demise of the Auckland Stars. They went back-to-back in 2010 and 2011 behind the leadership of Lindsay Tait, and with the help of Corey Webster, the Saints garnered their eighth title in 2014. Between 2008 and 2016, the Saints were grand finalists every year except 2009 and 2013. The team won their ninth title in 2016 with the help of import Torrey Craig, Tai Wesley, Leon Henry and B. J. Anthony.[4]

Australian NBL hopes[edit]

In February 2014, after many years of angling for a Wellington presence in the Australian National Basketball League, Saints' CEO Nick Mills appeared set to get his wish, with ANBL boss Fraser Neill viewing a capital-based team as a prime candidate for a proposed four-team expansion in the 2015–16 season. With the ANBL hoping to expand from eight to 16 teams within five years, Wellington, Brisbane, Tasmania, Canberra and a second Melbourne side were all in the mix for 2015–16.[5] Initial talks between Mills and Neill were positive but they struck a speed bump during a meeting in May 2014 after Mills' bid differed from the ANBL's preference.[6]

Current roster[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team eligibility at FIBA sanctioned events. Players may hold other non-FIBA nationality not displayed.

Wellington Saints roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Nat. Name Ht.
G 0 New Zealand Ili, Shea 1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)
F 1 New Zealand Anthony, B. J. 2.00 m (6 ft 7 in)
G 2 New Zealand Letoa, Isaac 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
G 3 New Zealand Stubbins, Jackson 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
G 4 New Zealand Buckrell, Nico 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)
G/F 6 New Zealand Johnson, Theo 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)
F 7 New Zealand Ekenasio, Damien (C) 1.92 m (6 ft 4 in)
F/C 8 Australia Duinker, Josh (I) 2.09 m (6 ft 10 in)
G 9 New Zealand Webster, Corey 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
G 10 New Zealand Mills, Jordan 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in)
F 11 New Zealand Ngatai, Jordan 1.96 m (6 ft 5 in)
F 15 New Zealand Henry, Leon 2.00 m (6 ft 7 in)
F 42 Guam Wesley, Tai 2.01 m (6 ft 7 in)
New Zealand Stubbins, Elliott
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)
  • New Zealand Zico Coronel
Team manager
  • New Zealand Phil Hartley

  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Development player
  • (IN) Inactive
  • (I) Import player
  • Injured Injured

Updated: 6 April 2017


External links[edit]