BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE North-West Thunder chairman Tony Barker has welcomed the introduction of Mount Gambier to the NBL1 competition ahead of the 2020 season.
One of the powerhouses of the old SEABL in recent years, the Pioneers failed to gain a licence when the NBL1 took over in 2019 after being unable to meet the required conditions, which included being able to field a women’s team.
“Being a club from a regional area quite similar to Tasmania, and their club historically, although they have changed now, was been a standalone men’s team for a long time, there was a lot of similarities with us.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations over the time, particularly when SEABL was changing.”
The addition of the Pioneers now brings the amount of teams in the men’s and women’s competitions to 19 each.
Barker is awaiting confirmation that the increase in teams will also result in a favourable increase in roster size from 20 to 22 games.
“Twenty games wasn’t really enough, especially when we had two double-headers with Launceston which left us with just eight home games,” Barker said.
“It was barely enough in terms of generating income for a club like ours which relies heavily on door sales.”
Barker said on-court preparations for the 2020 season were underway with coach Sam Armstrong shoring up his local content of players before working through his import options.