Johannesburg - A better and tougher new Basketball National League (BNL) is here. The sixth season of the popular league will kick off on Friday at Wembley Arena in Johannesburg.
BNL general manager Dali Dzingwa told City Press that this year's campaign will be different from the previous ones.
He said 10 teams, three from Gauteng and one each from seven other provinces, will compete for the coveted prize. Free State will not have a representative as the Free State Warriors pulled out after a squabble with the provincial parent body.
"But we are in consultation with the director-general of the department of sport and recreation on how we can bring them back because we want everyone to be on board," said Dzingwa.
He said the first five instalments of the league were a trial run and the league was now ready to implement what it had learnt.
"We were looking at what we can learn and now we are at a stage where we can deliver what is required. The past five seasons have been an eye-opener.
"One of the changes we have made is to move from a (private entity) to a non-profit organisation, after realising that, once you privatise something, it becomes difficult for some people to be part of it.
"We are doing this in the interest of sport so that we share all the available resources equally among all the clubs."
He said the other change was to spread matches across Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
"Instead of playing all our matches at Wembley, we have decided to also go to Cape Town and Durban so all the coastal clubs will play their round-robin matches in these two cities."
He said SuperSport would remain the broadcast sponsor of the event for five more seasons.
"It has been with us from the onset and has renewed the contract for a further five years," he said.
"It is also important to note the support from the department of sport and recreation, which resuscitated the whole programme to assist the development of basketball in the country.
"There is a rejuvenation in the country because of the department's involvement. We decided to do a top-down approach so that aspiring players could work towards achieving their dreams of playing in this league," Dzingwa said.
The league will kick off with the Soweto Panthers taking on the North West Eagles and Limpopo Pride going against Egoli Magic at 18:30 and 20:30, respectively.