NBL Showdown a credit to New Zealand and a basketball global success story

As the NBA re-starts their competition, New Zealand's National Basketball League is coming to an end.

Both the Otago Nuggets and Manawatu Jets will each vie for a maiden national title on Saturday, capping a competition that's earned praise from the highest rungs of world basketball.

Basketball New Zealand took a chance on running the NBL this year, and according to Manawatu captain Tom Vodanovich,  it's a decision that's paid off big time

"It's been a great league," Vodanovich tells Newshub. 

"I think people around the world have really appreciated being able to watch live sport again."

With the coronavirus throwing the league's original plans into disarray, the six-week Auckland based competition enabled the NBL to not only be completed but become the first basketball league to resume worldwide.

"From an international perspective, I  know the secretary general and president of world basketball have both sent their congratulations to New Zealand," FIBA International Basketball Foundation vice president, Burton Shipley reveals to Newshub. 

Comments backed up by star Otago Nuggets forward Jordan Ngatai.

"I think it's just awesome as a nation what we've done," he says. 

A team who might be thankful more than most are tNgatai's Nuggets.

They weren't even meant to be in the competition this year, but the revamped league presented a chance to join a season earlier than originally planned.

They're now in their first-ever national league final.

"The support that we've got from back down in Dunedin and back up here, I think it's only right to come out and try and win it for them," Ngatai says.

Manawatu have only made one final themselves, so there promises to be no love lost tomorrow

"The minute you step on the court everyone knows you go to war it's as simple as that," Vodanavich says.

"We're gonna have to do what we gotta do to get the win tomorrow and that's how both teams are gonna have to play."

And if that's the case it should be good viewing, with the match been shown on ESPN in the United States on Saturday. 

A historic evening for basketball in New Zealand, where a first-time winner will be crowned in the first final played post-COVID-19.