ILT Stadium Southland has been announced as the home for a new National Basketball League (NBL) 3×3 bastketball competition that will bring all seven NBL teams to the city, as well as the Otago Nuggets and Franklin Bulls, for the two-day tournament in May.
The 2020 NBL season will break for a week to host the tournament, which will be called the 3×3 National Cup, with two night sessions across both days and all games being broadcast live on SKY Sports. The stadium has signed on to host the tournament for the next three years.
3X3 basketball differs from regular basketball with just three players on each team, rather than five in a traditional game. Games are also much shorter, lasting for only 10 minutes and are played on half of a normal-sized court.
NBL General Manager Justin Nelson said it was a big year for the 3X3 version of the sport, with it set to appear at the Olympics for the first time in Tokyo in 2020.
He said the competition came about due to the expanding popularity the shorter version has received worldwide.
“We’re really excited about the whole concept of 3X3 adding another piece of silverware to the league, especially with the game set to enter the Olympics literally weeks after we hold it. It’s such a different form of the game, it’s fast and physical and makes for a lot of fun either in person at the game or sitting back at home watching on television. We’ll have a bit of fun with it and add some extra things.”
A variety of music and family entertainment will also take place at the stadium during the tournament, and ILT Stadium Southland general manager Nigel Skelt said it was exciting to have the tournament take place in Southland.
“We are thrilled to continue our association with NZ Basketball in this exciting new competition, without doubt the opportunity of hosting a destination event for Invercargill is a major draw card and I am sure we will get fantastic support from our fanatical basketball fans.”
The inclusion of the Nuggets and Bulls will give basketball fans a taste of what to expect in 2021, with both teams announced as new franchises to enter the NBL after next season.
Nelson also said there is a chance a 10th team will be added to the tournament in the form of either one of New Zealand’s national 3X3 teams, an NBL select team, a visiting international team or a past NBL players team.
And while the NBL’s regular season is partnered by pizza chain Sal’s, Nelson said the naming rights for the league’s newest competition was up for grabs.
This article was originally written for The Advocate. You can read the published version here