The Sal’s National Basketball League (Sal’s NBL) are excited to announce the Bay of Plenty Stingrays as the first expansion team to enter the competition in 2024.
This announcement follows a robust decision-making process undertaken by BBNZ, in which multiple EOI’s were submitted to the League for review. The submissions were shortlisted to a final four, with the Stingrays submission selected by an Expansion Panel as one of two franchises to be granted an NBL license for 2024.
NBL General Manager, Huw Beynon says that the Stingray’s bid was deemed ‘exemplary’ for a number of reasons.
“When going through this expansion process, we looked for a basketball franchise with a solid business model and a genuine desire to be successful,” says Beynon.
“But beyond that, we wanted a franchise who would represent their community at the highest level, and who would commit to building pathways for young athletes in their region – helping to grow the game of basketball and all the positives that come from it.
“The Bay of Plenty Stingrays absolutely nailed this ideal in their submission and left us with no doubt that they were the right choice, so we are very excited for the future of basketball in the Bay of Plenty.”
John Miller, spokesperson for the Bay of Plenty Stingrays and a member of the Bay of Plenty Basketball Foundation (BOPBF), says they are thrilled to be bringing the NBL to the Bay of Plenty region.
"We're going to develop a competitive NBL team, who play hard to win but who also have a wider definition of success. The team ethos will be built around the concept of ‘by competing we get better together”, says John.
“Knowing the benefits sport provides to communities, we're excited about the impact this will have on the region."
Lorraine Miller says that ultimately the Stingrays want to have a positive impact on both the sport and the city.
"We aim to provide a great launching platform for young local stars and to promote community sport in the Bay of Plenty. Alongside the NBL team, we will create a basketball academy to deliver on these goals,” says Lorraine.
"The team will be competing from 2024 to give us time to build a team with as many local players as possible."
John says that developing local talent is a primary purpose of the Foundation, with a planned basketball academy and activities to support community sport being key to the Foundation’s strategy for success in the NBL.
“We’re looking to add to and nurture a thriving basketball community here in the Bay of Plenty; the NBL team will encourage and inspire kids to get active and involved in the game at the grassroots level, while the academy will prepare promising players to play in the NBL team and beyond.
“And all the while we’ll be working with regional schools and associations to help young people develop life skills through basketball.”
The Foundation has also announced Alex Stojkovic – who has over 20 years of basketball coaching and administration experience in New Zealand - as Director of Coaching for the Foundation. Alex will begin his new role in a part-time capacity from February 2022, in order for him to fulfil his existing commitments with the Te Aroha Basketball Association.
John says that Alex brings added basketball credibility to both the NBL franchise and the Foundation.
“Alex will oversee the development of our Academy and NBL Coaches - he has been instrumental in helping us with the setup of a Basketball Academy and with our bid for an NBL License.
“His vision for the game is shaping our vision for Basketball in the Bay of Plenty. We hope that the community and local businesses will join us in supporting the Bay of Plenty NBL team, and the growth of our young people”.
John believes that community contribution will play a huge part in the Foundation’s values and activities.
“The Stingrays as an NBL team will get involved with community events and programs aimed at inspiring kids to get active and promoting the values of sport – players will give back to local communities by donating their time and resources to local charities.
“We can’t wait to be able to showcase this team and our academy to the Bay of Plenty public in 2024.”
The second expansion team to be granted an NBL license for 2024 – and who will enter the Sal’s NBL competition alongside the Stingrays - will be announced in early January.
Beynon says that the expansion of the Sal’s NBL is proof of both the growing popularity of basketball in New Zealand and the vitality of a League in continued growth mode.
“Despite all the challenges that Covid has thrown at sport across Aotearoa and the world, it’s exciting to see the League continue to expand and go from strength to strength each season – it’s great for the players, the fans and the growth of the game at all levels.”