Sat | Dec 15, 2018

Skeptical sponsors question NBL start

Published:Monday | January 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
In this file photo from August 16, 2013, an Urban Knights player (front) is challenged by two Spanish Town Spartans opponents during Game Two of the FLOW National Basketball League finals at the National Stadium Court.

Urban Knights manager, Gordon Porter, and Rohan Robinson the coach of St George's Slayers said although players and sponsors were initially skeptical about the return of the National Basketball League (NBL) after a four year absence, the majority of players are now convinced that the nation's premier basketball competition will resume on Saturday.

In recent weeks, most teams have stepped up preparations for the long anticipated tournament.

However, both men admitted most clubs are finding it difficult to fund the over $500,000 it will take to finance the season, as they have only started re-engaging sponsors, most of whom are still skeptical about the league's return.

"Everybody had been skeptical, but after the meeting we went ahead and started our preparation. It has been a bit slow due to the availability of person but in the end things have come on," Robinson stated.

"But based on this being a three months league, it is going to take over $400,000 to see it through and it has been difficult to generate funds because we just started playing. So we have to try to resell it to the sponsor. Some sponsors who knew of the NBL are skeptical, so when we approach them they tell us they are waiting to see what happens," he revealed.

Urban Knights also faces similar challenges said Gordon. "The main challenge at this point is to obtain the requisite funding for the program, but we recognised it is going to be a gradual process, so we are in dialogue with our sponsors. To get the typical shoes, gears, rehydration, travelling and such, I could see us spending, at the very least, $500,000 (for the season), and a lot of clubs are managing scarce resources," he noted.

However, for both clubs just having the league to participate in again is a welcome relief. "Urban Knights have not been in competitive play for over four years, although the players have been involved with other teams at the division one level.




"But this restart is a chance to look at where the club is at in technical terms and to reinvigorate the programme going forward. It's really an opportunity to get back on stream and re-energise the Urban Knights brand and just really to participate again. Hopefully by the second (season after the return) NBL clubs will return to the usual standard," said Gordon.

"But we are starting and hopefully as we go along we will have other sponsors coming on board and by the third (edition) we should see some new ones coming on board. But we just want to get going and provide this opportunity for players. So we remain positively optimistic.

While, Robinson added that "because everyone has been so dormant for so long, we are all just happy to have the league running again. The word is out. and it's a big boost and most people are looking towards it."