A showdown between the Hawke's Bay Hawks and Wellington Saints on the eve of Good Friday is set to headline the opening round of the Sal's NBL 2020 season.
The 2019 Grand Final opponents are expected to go head-to-head at Pettigrew Green Arena on Thursday April 9 with the clash beamed live around the nation on SKY Sports and Prime Television.
League HQ is expected to release the full Sal's NBL 2020 schedule next week.
As an interesting side note, the reigning champs (Saints) will step out with new coach, Zico Coronel, who will find himself pacing the sidelines up against his former team, the Hawks. Coronel recently signed with the Saints, returning back to the team where he was an assistant coach for many seasons prior to joining the Hawks as head coach.
Despite indicating he was going to assess overseas opportunities, Coronel was snapped up by the Saints when news broke the highly-regarded tactician was departing the Hawks. Read more about Zico's return to the Saints HERE.
The Sal's NBL 2020 season will feature eight teams after last Wednesday's announcement the Franklin Bulls will debut. Read more about the Bulls inclusion into the league HERE.
The full schedule is expected to feature an 18-game home and away regular season across 13 rounds. The teams will break mid-season for the inaugural 3X3 National Cup, which will be played at ILT Stadium Southland on Thursday May 28 and Friday May 29. Read more about the new competition HERE.
About the opening round clash between the Saints and Hawks, Sal's NBL GM Justin Nelson said "We want the best two teams of 2019 opening the new season with a bang, and to have the Coach Coronel switching teams situation thrown into the mix adds a great twist that will be a lot of fun to watch."