Auckland's ice cream parlour owner Giapo Grazioli hopes to get scooped up in NZ NBL Draft

The boss of the New Zealand Basketball League is lauding the inaugural player draft as a major success.

By the time registrations closed on Friday night over 500 people had signed up, including 19 current and former Tall Blacks.

But it's also attracted people from all walks of life, including media personalities, high schoolers, up and coming talent and business owners.

Giapo Grazioli is one of them.

The Italian native is the owner of the successful boutique ice cream parlour Giapo in central Auckland.

It's won many awards, but now he wants a crack at the NBL.

"Even though I'm not a kid anymore, I'm a kid at heart, I still want to play," he told Newshub.

"I love the game"

It's a game he's played since a kid with his family but up until now playing in New Zealand's national league had been a long shot.

But the draft has now made that dream a reality and the 41-year-old guard thinks he brings plenty to the table.

"Experience, understanding the positions and being a team player" are his strengths.

"I play for the team, put the ego aside, especially because of my age. 

"On the other hand I feel as strong as ever, and I'm ready."

The sheer number of registrations has created excitement and hype League boss Justin Nelson believes has never been seen before.

Nelson expects to cut the number to just over 400 come Thursday night's draft.

"There are draft parties been set up across the country, who would have thought we're holding basketball draft parties here in New Zealand," Nelson told Newshub.

"[The draft's] been a fascination for the Tall Blacks players as well as those players just living the dream and wanting to get out there and have a chance to get drafted."

Grazioli is proof of that excitement and said he noticed it around the basketball community.

"In every gym I go to, it's the [talk] of the town," he said

"Did you register? Did you apply? I think [the draft is] phenomenal you know."

Seven teams will select twelve players each and when asked what he thought his chances were, Grazioli wasn't sure. But he was sure about one thing.

"I would love every kid who has a dream to go before me. Once everyone else has been picked, if there is a spot I come after," he said.

If he is one of the lucky 84 that get selected, the business owner said he'd celebrate with an NBL themed ice-cream, that's something even non-basketballers could sign up for.