The Pioneers Basketball have received yet again some unwelcoming news with Basketball Australia not granting the club entry into the New Zealand NBL.

The news was learnt late Tuesday night when club representatives were informed by Basketball Australia and a formal response with received on Wednesday afternoon.

Whilst the Mount Gambier Pioneers met all requirements and had been granted entry for season 2020 by Basketball New Zealand the NZ NBL for season 2020. The Pioneers Basketball Club required official clearance from Basketball Australia to compete within the competition.

“The Pioneers Basketball Club board are extremely disappointed with Basketball Australia’s decision to deny Mount Gambier the opportunity to pursue the club’s entry into the NZNBL to its full potential”.

The Pioneers have been fighting for a suitable competition to compete within since the middle of August 2018 when Basketball Australia announced that they would no longer sanction the SEABL competition which the Pioneers had been a part of for over 30 years.

Unsuccessfully the Pioneers made an application to be part of Basketball Victoria’s ‘Competition which is the replacement competition for SEABL. Of all existing SEABL clubs Mount Gambier were the only team to not receive a license based on the selection panel could not be convinced the Pioneers could put together a competitive women’s team.

The Pioneers currently compete within the South Australian Premier League. In which they were accepted into the competition on a one year license in the final days of December 2018. 

The tireless work of the Pioneers Board, OneFortyOne women’s Head Coach Matt Sutton and Castec Rural Supplies men’s Head Coach Richard Hill the club established a womens team from scratch along with had to re build a men’s team with 8 of the 2018 team departed due to the uncertainty.

The sustainability of the South Australian Premier League has been the number one concern for the Pioneers. Largely due to Mount Gambier’s ability to compete within an inferior  competition whilst remaining competitive beyond 2019, when current Pioneers and potential Pioneers are looking at playing higher levels of competition.

“The opportunity to work with the NZNBL and the Southern Huskies was an exciting one and one that would have provided some hope for a sustainable future and restored high level competition in Mount Gambier. I know this disappointment will be shared by our members and community.”

The Pioneers advisory committee will meet early next week from this meeting the group will provide recommendations to be considered by the Pioneers Board in respect to the club’s future. 

“I would like to thank General Manager of the NZNBL Justin Nelson and Chief Executive of Basketball NZ Iain Potter for their professionalism throughout the formal bid process. We wish them well with the endeavors in expanding what is already an high level competition.”

The Pioneers are fully committed to the 2019 Premier League season in which we are extremely excited about the opportunity to potentially hosting both women’s and men’s home finals at the Ice House throughout late July and early August.

As a club we remain focused on securing a sustainable home for the Pioneers into the future and will continue to work with both Baskeball SA and its clubs as well as Basketball Victoria in which we expect to receive an invitation to apply for the replacement competition of SEABL now named ‘NBL1’ for season 2020.