To cap off a big year for basketball, the Sal’s NBL has announced the dates for its newest competition – the women’s Development League.
Simply known as the D-League, the competition will feature four teams playing in three-day schedule this year, however a move to an eight-team extended league is expected in 2021.
The D-League will feature during the final three days of the currently running Sal’s NBL 18IN18 at Pulman Arena, south Auckland.
Competing teams include Tauranga City Coasters, Rotorua Lady Geysers, Northland Phoenix and Taranaki Thunder.
NBL general manager Justin Nelson is pleased to finally see the new competition get off the ground.
“The D-League was originally planned for mid-year with eight teams competing, but of course it’s be stop-go throughout 2020 and we’ve all had to wait patiently to get to where we are today,” said Nelson.
“This competition is a stepping stone to the Sal’s NBL and is another vital piece in the player pathway for our elite women. To have another forty-plus women on the court in early December playing under the NBL banner is incredibly important to what we are trying to build for the players.”
The D-League competition will see two games played on Friday 4 December, four games on Saturday 5 December, and then a Grand Final on Sunday 6 December.
All games will be played during the day ahead of the evening’s NBL game, and entry for all fans will be free.
In another coup for the NBL, the D-League Grand Final will be broadcast live on Sky Sport Select (2:30pm, Sunday December 6) as a curtain raiser to the 18IN18 Grand Final which tips off at 5pm that day.
“All going well, a return to a normal season in 2021 will see more than a hundred players participating in our women’s NBL and D-League competitions. You simply cannot overstate how important that is for the future of the Sky Sport Tall Ferns and New Zealand’s growing opportunities to win medals at international level,” added Nelson.
Platinum Homes Taranaki Thunder general manager Rebecca Langton is looking forward to seeing her team back on court.
"The opportunity to play in the D-League competition alongside our NBL women couldn't have come at a better time for the Platinum Homes Taranaki Thunder. We had a successful campaign at the Schick 3x3 Cup with a final placing of 5th, well above our initial seeding of 10th, so the natural next step was to continue building on that result and to field a team in the D-League tournament."
"We are excited to be in a position where we can field a team of young and more experienced players. This short tournament format has enabled players to commit to the team. Players like Zoe Kensington, Jenna Kensington, and Vanessa Weir juggling jobs and babies, through to Raquel Sampson and Caitlin O'Connell being able to fit this in between NCEA exams - this format is ideal for our players. We just had to be a part of it. We acknowledge and appreciate the mahi gone in to making this happen for us."
Sal’s NBL D-League
Where: Pulman Arena, south Auckland
When: December 4-6
Friday December 4
3:00pm Tauranga City Coasters vs Rotorua Lady Geysers
5:00pm Northland Phoenix vs Taranaki Thunder
Saturday December 5
8:00am Taranaki Thunder vs Tauranga City Coasters
10:00am Rotorua Lady Geysers vs Northland Phoenix
3:00pm Northland Phoenix vs Tauranga City Coasters
5:00pm Taranaki Thunder vs Rotorua Lady Geysers
Sunday December 6
2:30pm Grand Final (1 vs 2 / broadcast live on Sky Sport Select Ch50)
More info in the 18IN18: