Nuggets could return soon to rejigged national league

The Otago Nuggets’ planned comeback has been brought forward a year.

The franchise was aiming for a return next season but the Covid-19 pandemic has presented the side with an opportunity to re-enter a rejigged National Basketball League.

Nuggets spokeswomen Angela Ruske said she would not be in a position to comment until next week.

However, the franchise has been working with the league and a source close to the bid said the signs looked positive.

There are still hurdles to get over and it is possible the Nuggets’ efforts could fall flat.

Both parties were committed to make it happen.

The Nuggets pulled out of the league following the 2014 season due to financial reasons. Efforts to revive the team stepped up last year but the franchise was unable to commit to 2020 so turned its attention to the following season.

Earlier this week some Nuggets players were spotted training at the Edgar Centre, including Dunedin’s Sam Timmins.

Unfortunately the 2.11m forward and former Tall Black has signed with Auckland side the Franklin Bulls.

Timmins became the youngest debutant in the Nuggets history when he took the court as a 15-year-old during the 2013 season.

He would have been a big asset but Nuggets coach Brent Matehaere said there was still plenty of talent in the city to field a competitive team if the franchise secures a spot on the billing this year.

"Right now the talent is awesome. We have players breathing down the door to get in the gym.

"Obviously there hasn’t been that level of basketball played in the city for a while. But there is talent there. It is [a question of] whether they can rise to the occasion and step up to NBL intensity."

The NBL is expected to make an announcement about the format of the league early next week.

But it is understood it will be a truncated season of five or six weeks. It will be played in one location and a draft will be utilised to spread the talent evenly.

The idea was floated last month but was hosed down by most of the teams in the league.

Yesterday, the league confirmed Tasmanian side the Southern Huskies was relocating to Auckland to play in the tournament.

They will be coached by former Breakers coach Kevin Braswell and will even adopt the new moniker of the Auckland Huskies.

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