But after months of fine-tuning, NBL1 has been born with an aim of being Australia’s premier winter basketball league.
“We’ve been quietly confident about this move since all the clubs met in Melbourne in December,” Barker said.
After Basketball Australia abandoned the SEABL last year, it appeared the Thunder, along with Tasmania’s other two clubs would play in a competition named along the lines of the Victorian Elite League.
“The standard and commercialisation the league were aiming for was presented to us at that meeting.
“It’s been quite a number of weeks trying to get the deal across the line, and now it’s finally arrived, it’s fantastic and a great brand to run with.
“It gives the new league opportunities, especially with the connection to the NBL and everything that comes with that.
“It makes it sound better and it’s a recognised brand as well – it’s like we aren’t starting from scratch again.
“People see NBL and can make the connection.”
The new league has stated that every game will be streamed live, with Barker also expecting a game of the week to be shown on NBL TV.
“That opens up something that is at a higher level than what we have had in past years and will also help attract potential sponsors knowing they are going to get more coverage,” Barker said.
NBL CEO Jeremy Loeliger has high aims for the league, which will get underway on Friday, March 29 and features 18 clubs playing across 15 rounds followed by a four-week finals series.
“NBL1 will be the premier league in Australia after the NBL and WNBL, showcasing Australia’s best emerging talent and many other professional players,” he said.
“NBL1 will strengthen the pathway from the junior levels all the way through to the NBL, WNBL and ultimately the Boomers and Opals helping develop the next generation of stars.
“Importantly it will feature both women’s and men’s teams, and be a league all females and males coming through junior ranks can aspire to play in.”
Despite the increased level of exposure, Barker believes the Thunder won’t have to do too much more to meet league requirements on game nights.
“I think we are pretty well up there already in terms of how we present our games, so all we need is some fine-tuning,” he said.
The full NBL1 roster is expected to be released on Monday.