BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE North-West Thunder chairman Tony Barker hopes basketball in the south of the state can rebound quickly after the shock withdrawal of the Southern Huskies and Hobart Huskies from the New Zealand NBL and NBL1 competitions.
With all the NBL1 clubs to meet at a forum in Melbourne in a fortnight, Barker said it wasn’t a good look for Tasmanian basketball to have another drama unfolding.
The Hobart Huskies took over the NBL1 licence from the Hobart Chargers, who went into recess last year following disagreements over affiliation with Basketball Tasmania.
“It’s going to be almost embarrassing I think to be there and have Tassie fall off the wagon again after we got ourselves sorted last year,” Barker said.
“That’s what will make the NBL1 guys nervous again so something needs to happen pretty quick to settle things down.
“Whether it’s a disaster or a challenge, there is always opportunity that goes along with it and that opportunity now is to get the structures right to be sustainable moving forward.
“I think there will be a few people feeling a bit jaded about it all after jumping on the Huskies bandwagon and I don’t know how the Chargers’ community would be feeling about it all as well.
“We’ve also got the NBL Blitz coming up and the NBL1 participation in that – you want it to be really successful and be a real positive for Tasmania and not clouded by something like this.”
Behind a seemingly well-financed operating group, the Huskies made a big splash on the Tasmanian basketball landscape and made their intentions clear that their ultimate goal was to get a team in the NBL.
They began that process by entering a team in the NZNBL which featured North-West Coast product Mason Bragg and was coached by Anthony Stewart.
But Barker believes operating costs may have also been part of the reason for Friday’s announcement, especially after they received a $200,000 interim support package from the Tasmanian Government back in June.
“It seems that the Huskies went out on a limb to get something going at all costs,” Barker said.
“They were certainly out of pocket compared to the rest of the New Zealand league teams and maybe it wasn’t sustainable?”
With NBL owner Larry Kestelman currently in exclusive negotiations to buy the Derwent Entertainment Centre, Barker doesn’t think Tasmania’s chances of having its own team again will be damaged.
“Kestelman will do what he wants to do and I don’t think any of this will be a surprise to him,” Barker said.
“There was a comment in the media release about all their creditors getting paid, and we had heard all season about things that alerted us to that – I’m sure those stories would have been getting back to the NBL1 and Kestelman.”