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National Basketball League (New Zealand)

The National Basketball League (NBL) is the pre-eminent semi-professional men's basketball league in New Zealand.

National Basketball League (NBL)
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2019 New Zealand NBL season
Sal's NBL Logo.jpg
Sal's NBL Logo
Inaugural season1982
CEOIain Potter
DirectorJustin Nelson (general manager)
No. of teams9
Country New Zealand
ContinentFIBA Oceania (Oceania)
Most recent
Southland Sharks (3rd title)
Most titlesWellington Saints (10 titles)
Level on pyramid1

Nine teams will compete in the 2019 season, with teams based in Auckland, Christchurch, Invercargill, Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Wellington, as well as for the first time in league history, an Australian team based in Tasmania.

Despite financial woes forcing a number of teams over the past decade to fold, the quality of play in the league continues to improve, evidenced by more New Zealand players going on to play in the Australian National Basketball League (ANBL) and college basketball in the United States. Some have even gone on further to make the NBA, such as Kirk Penney and Steven Adams. The league has a limit of three imports per team with many of the imports coming from the United States. The league also only allows one naturalised New Zealand player per team.

In the league's early days, Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury dominated the competition. By the mid-1990s, Auckland and Nelson were the teams to beat, with New Zealand basketball legends Pero Cameron and Phill Jones dominating during this era for Auckland and Nelson, respectively. Auckland and Waikato dominated during the 2000s, but with Auckland's departure following the 2012 season, the door was left open for Wellington and Southland to fill the void of the league's premier teams.



Through the 1970s, basketball games in New Zealand were organised between neighbouring representative teams, or in annual tournaments organised as club or provincial national tournaments. Other competitions were also held during Easter tournaments or in small regional leagues. The Countrywide Basketball League began in 1982 in response to a need for consistent and quality competition on a semi-professional basis, to match the structure and improvements occurring in Australia. Tall Blacks such as Stan Hill, Dave Edmonds, Glen Denham, Byron Vaetoe, Peter Pokai and Tony Smith were important cogs during the early years of the competition. However, Americans dominated the league during the 1980s. Imported players like Clyde Huntley, Angelo Hill, Frank Smith, Kerry Boagni, Willie Burton, Ronnie Joyner, Benny Anthony, Tyrone and Tony Brown, and Kenny McFadden added a level of sophistication and style to the Kiwi basketball scene.

The big city teams such as Auckland, Canterbury and Wellington dominated in the early years, but when the Hutt Valley Lakers won 1991 and 1993, the star players began to spread out. The Nelson Giants won their first championship in 1994 and Auckland became the first team to win three titles in a row from 1995–97. After the Waitakere Rangers, Hutt Valley Lakers and Northland Suns left in the late 1990s, the league's level of competitiveness took a hit.

The mid-1990s saw a shift in the skill level of the New Zealand players. Star players like Pero Cameron and Phill Jones began to lead their respective squads to success, as teams began to rely more heavily on New Zealanders than ever before. By the early 2000s, the league implemented the one-import rule so as to limit the American domination on the league, and with the formation of the New Zealand Breakers in 2003, Kiwi players found an incentive to continue playing in the NZNBL in hopes of being rewarded with an ANBL contract. Players like Pero Cameron, Phill Jones, Dillon Boucher, Lindsay Tait, Mika Vukona, Pāora Winitana and Paul Henare became household names in New Zealand and Australian basketball circles.

Current teamsEdit

Former and defunct teamsEdit

League eligibility rulesEdit

There are two categories of players in the NZNBL:

  • Non-Restricted Player – players eligible to play for New Zealand in FIBA competitions
  • Restricted Player – a player who is not eligible to play for New Zealand[7]

Basketball New Zealand believes that the NZNBL is very much a part of the player pathway for New Zealand players, where Tall Blacks and potential Tall Blacks can play and develop as players. For that reason, it is intended that NZNBL teams have a majority of players that are able to represent New Zealand.[8]

Broadcasting detailsEdit

In March 2016, Basketball New Zealand, the NZNBL, and New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME) announced that two weekly NBL games will be livestreamed free of charge on throughout the 2016 season.[9] In December 2016, NZME joined forces with Basketball New Zealand and Maori Television in a new media partnership for the 2017 season. NZME announced they would continue to build on the success of the 2016 live streaming in 2017 with at least two games a week to be livestreamed on, as well as all games during the Final Four weekend. In addition, Maori Television will televise free to air live coverage of a NBL game every Sunday afternoon at 3pm, for the duration of the competition, and live coverage of the Final Four weekend consisting of the Semi Finals and Final. Maori Television will also show delayed coverage of a second game every week on a Saturday afternoon during the season.[10]


List of ChampionsEdit

During their time in the competition, the Auckland Stars were the benchmark of the NBL. Their 9 titles was a league record until Wellington won their 10th title in 2017. Next best is Canterbury and Waikato with 4, then Nelson and Southland (3), Hutt Valley (2), Hawke's Bay (1), and Auckland Pirates (1).[11]

Year NBL Champions Result Runners-up
1982 Auckland Waitemata
1983 Auckland 80 – 77 Wellington Saints
1984 Wellington Saints 96 – 83 Auckland
1985 Wellington Saints 114 – 111 Auckland
1986 Canterbury Rams 87 – 82 Wellington Saints
1987 Wellington Saints 100 –87 Canterbury Rams
1988 Wellington Saints 81 – 78 North Shore
1989 Canterbury Rams 91 – 83 Auckland
1990 Canterbury Rams 76 – 73 Nelson Giants
1991 Hutt Valley Lakers 103 – 92 Wellington Saints
1992 Canterbury Rams 79 – 71 Palmerston North Jets
1993 Hutt Valley Lakers 68 – 66 Canterbury Rams
1994 Nelson Giants 67 – 66 Canterbury Rams
1995 Auckland Stars 2 – 0
(80–74, 70–57)
Hawke's Bay Hawks
1996 Auckland Stars 2 – 1
(95–110, 109–98, 94–90)
Nelson Giants
1997 Auckland Rebels 2 – 0
(115–94, 100–82)
Nelson Giants
1998 Nelson Giants 81 – 73 North Harbour Kings
1999 Auckland Rebels 79 – 72 Canterbury Rams
2000 Auckland Rebels 95 – 78 Nelson Giants
2001 Waikato Titans 112 – 97 Wellington Saints
2002 Waikato Titans 85 – 83 Nelson Giants
2003 Wellington Saints 97 – 88 Waikato Titans
2004 Auckland Stars 80 – 68 Nelson Giants
2005 Auckland Stars 69 – 68 Hawke's Bay Hawks
2006 Hawke's Bay Hawks 84 – 69 Auckland Stars
2007 Nelson Giants 2 – 0
(76–67, 96–83)
Hawke's Bay Hawks
2008 Waikato Pistons 2 – 0
(95–78, 84–79)
Wellington Saints
2009 Waikato Pistons 2 – 0
(81–69, 94–84)
Nelson Giants
2010 Wellington Saints 2 – 1
(74–84, 98–69, 82–79)
Waikato Pistons
2011 Wellington Saints 106 – 97 Hawke's Bay Hawks
2012 Auckland Pirates 89 – 83 Wellington Saints
2013 Southland Sharks 92 – 81 Nelson Giants
2014 Wellington Saints 85 – 69 Hawke's Bay Hawks
2015 Southland Sharks 72 – 68 Wellington Saints
2016 Wellington Saints 94 – 82 Super City Rangers
2017 Wellington Saints 108 – 75 Southland Sharks
2018 Southland Sharks 98 – 96 Wellington Saints


See alsoEdit


External linksEdit