Basketball: Huskies relocate to Auckland for NZ NBL

Kevin Braswell will return to New Zealand to coach the Auckland Huskies.
Kevin Braswell will return to New Zealand to coach the Auckland Huskies. Photo credit: Photosport

Former NZ Breakers coach Kevin Braswell will return to New Zealand to guide the Huskies' surprise NBL entry, permanently based in Auckland. 

In 2018, the Huskies became the first Australian sports team to cross the ditch to contest a Kiwi national competition.

Based in Tasmania, the Huskies finished fifth and missed the semi-finals, but have now relocated to become the competition's second Auckland franchise, alongside the new Franklin Bulls. 

While no players have been signed, four-time NZ NBL champion (two as a player and two as a coach) Braswell has committed on to lead the team. 

Auckland Huskies ownership group member Mike Sutton is pleased his group can bring forward its original plans.

"We've been speaking with the NBL since last year," says Sutton. "We always intended to keep our franchise license alive and had started planning for a move in 2021.

"We heard about the possibility of a competition in 2020 and we really liked the creative approach the league had taken during a difficult time. 

"We saw an opportunity to speed up the process, and give something back to the league and to the basketball fans in Auckland."

Sutton says the Huskies have a chance to forge new ground, representing a great basketball city and helping develop lots of positive relationships across New Zealand.

"Every time we travelled to New Zealand, we loved it. The hospitality and support shown was fantastic, we were welcomed with open arms and that really became the biggest factor, when we started looking at relocating."

Under various guises, Auckland teams have won the league 10 times, including the inaugural 1982 title, but have struggled to stay financially viable over the past decade.   

At the end of last season, the Super City Rangers had their league license terminated, after a troubled campaign that saw them unable to pay their bills.

Further details of the new-look 2020 NBL competition will be announced early next week.

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