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Otago Nuggets coach Brent Matehaere was as thrilled as anyone the franchise will be returning to the National Basketball League after an absence of six years.
Now the only question is whether he will be able to take up his post.
The Nuggets will join six other teams in an abbreviated NBL.
Covid-19 has meant some serious tinkering has been required to get the league under way.
It has been shortened to six weeks and the tournament will be held in Auckland beginning on June 23.
There have been some high-profile casualties, as well. The Wellington Saints, the Southland Sharks and Hawke’s Bay Hawks have pulled out, while a team from Tasmania will play under the moniker of the Auckland Huskies.
These are unusual times.
And the Nuggets, despite attempts to revive the team gathering momentum last year, had been focused on a return in 2021. So to pop back up in the league has caught everyone a little by surprise, including the coach.
Matehaere is a teacher at Otago Boys’ High School and will need to work through with the school whether he can get the time off.
‘‘It is all up in the air,’’ he said.
‘‘The school has supported me in terms of my involvement in national teams, so I’ve had leave in the past but it has been in smaller blocks.
‘‘I’ve never had to ask for six weeks all in one block.’’
He planned to discuss it with the school yesterday, but said if he could not secure the time off then the Nuggets would box on.
‘‘If I can’t do it then I’m going to support whoever does. My goal originally was to be involved in 2021.’’
Matehaere was able to reveal a little more about how the tournament’s draft will operate.
The first step is to call for player registrations. That process will get under way on Monday and is open to athletes residing in New Zealand or returning New Zealanders who are prepared to meet the quarantine regulations.
When registration finishes on June 5, an independent panel will rank the top 14 players. Each team can only sign two of the those players.
Before the draft on June 11, teams can pre-select players it has either signed or who have a history with the franchise.
The remaining players will be available in the draft.
Each team can pre-select or draft 10 players, plus two emergency players to provide injury or illness cover.
At the conclusion of the draft the team will have three days to make trades.
It will bring some NBA excitement to the NBL.
Matehaere said it was still unclear how many of the Dunedin-based players would be available for the tournament, as some of them would need to secure leave.