Nuggets’ to finally make return

Brent Matehaere
Brent Matehaere
Mark it down in your diary.

The Otago Nuggets have a return date and it is June 24.

The National Basketball League yesterday released the draw along with a lengthy explanation of the draft.

The Nuggets’ comeback match will be against the Manawatu Jets in Auckland at 5.30pm.

Their previous match in the NBL was a 98-87 loss to the Hawkes Bay Hawkes on June 28, 2014 — that was 2188 days ago or four days short of six long years.

Nuggets coach Brent Matehaere said it was exciting to finally have a confirmed return date.

"It terms of personnel, the Jets are probably in a similar position to us in that they will be relying on the draft to bring in [taller players to play in the forward spots]," Matehaere said.

"That will become a key and also seeing who can gel together fast enough."

The NBL has undergone a serious overhaul this season. Covid-19 saw to that.

The rejigged tournament will be contested by seven teams.

It gets under way on June 23 and the grand final is on August 1.

All 56 games will be played in Auckland and will be broadcast on Sky Sport.

A feature of the tournament is the introduction of an NBA-style draft.

The idea behind it is to disperse the talent evenly across the teams.

The draft will take place on June 11 and will be broadcast live.

Each team will draft 10 players and a further two replacement players. Teams can preselect players by offering them contract spots on the roster.

Another interesting aspect of the draft is that the league’s top 14 players will be split evenly among the seven teams.

It is a lot to get your head around and Matehaere said NBA franchises would have a whole team of people working on it.

Whether Matehaere is there to lead the process is still unclear. He is a full-time teacher at Otago Boys’ High School and is working through whether he can secure leave.

The Southland Sharks have opted against competing in the league.

"Our No1 priority has been ensuring we make a decision that will set the Sharks up to get back to normal — whatever that looks like — for the 2021 Sal's NBL and to do all that we can for the sport at a community level in the south," the franchise stated.

"For us, the 2020 model doesn't fit. But we are fully supportive of the mountain of work the NBL board and management have put in to get players back to work."

NBL - Nuggets draw

June 24: Jets, 5.30pm
June 25: Giants, 5.30pm
July 1: Airs, 5.30pm
July 2: Bulls, 5.30pm
July 4: Rams, 7.30pm
July 7: Huskies, 5.30pm
July 11: Jets, 5.30pm
July 12: Giants, 7.30pm
July 14: Airs, 7.30pm
July 16: Rams, 7.30pm
July 18: Bulls, 7.30pm
July 21: Huskies, 7.30pm
July 23: Jets, 7.30pm
July 25: Giants, 5.30pm

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