Focus now on securing players, funds

Angela Ruske. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Angela Ruske. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The schedule is locked in.

Now the Otago Nuggets’ focus is turning firmly to securing players and funds.

The team is set to host the Wellington Saints at the Edgar Centre in the National Basketball League’s season opener on April 24.

However, there is plenty to do between now and then.

Player signings will have to wait a few weeks — free agency opens on November 16.

However, franchise general manager Angela Ruske said things were "ticking along" with securing sponsorship and that was now the primary focus.

A return to a full league next year would make it a far more expensive exercise than this year’s six-week Showdown in Auckland, which the team won.

Ruske was unable to provide too many details.

However, she said while progress was slow, the franchise knew where it was at and was confident it would be ready to go.

"I’m very happy with how we’ve got our packages all mapped out.

"We had to think outside the square with challenges presented by Covid. I think next year there’s still a bit of uncertainty around what might happen.

"But we’ve really thought outside the square in trying to present packages that will be affordable even if things aren’t looking so flash next year."

That involved providing the option of customised packages, being able to break down the traditional levels of sponsorships into different parts.

The franchise was unable to make offers to players until free agency opened.

However, Ruske confirmed the side had players lined up that it would be targeting.

Teams have to operate under new restrictions in terms of who they can sign.

A salary cap and floor will operate on three levels.

The first will be how much teams spend on New Zealanders, a second on imports and a third on Australian NBL New Zealanders.

Teams will also be allowed to sign a maximum of two imports and two Australian league players.

However, a complicating factor is that the ANBL is not beginning until at least January due to Covid-19.

That could mean it will not finish until June and players will not be available until the very end of the New Zealand season.

A potential Tall Blacks Olympic campaign could also clash with the season.

Imports, though, should be less of an issue.

The league will approach the Government and is hoping players will be able to enter the country as skilled workers if the Covid-19 border restrictions remain in place.

It all has potential to give the league a significantly different look player-wise.

Ruske also confirmed all nine home games would be played at the Edgar Centre.

While the franchise looked into taking a game to Central Otago, the Edgar Centre was the region’s only arena that met the minimum seating requirements.

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