SDF pumps $1.5m into National Basketball League
The Sports Development Foundation (SDF) has pumped $1.5 million into this year's staging of the National Basketball League (NBL), which is set to get under way with a double-header at the National Arena on Saturday.
Associate sponsors KFC will also be making a big contribution to the league as they will provide meals for the players on match days.
The NBL, the country's premier basketball competition, is making a return after a five-year absence. Calvin Martin, interim president of the Jamaica Basketball Association (JaBA), told The Gleaner following yesterday's press launch at the Jamaica Olympic Association office in Kingston that he is very delighted that the league has finally returned.
"It's a great feeling to have the NBL back, especially for the players who have been clamouring for it. It is sort of an emotional moment for me and so it feels good," said Martin.
"I expect the league to be very competitive and to be of a high quality, and I think that it will be very popular among the spectators and players," Martin said.
He added that they still be seeking additional sponsorship to help cover some of the other costs to run the competition as the SDF sponsorship will only cover the costs for match officials.
"We have a budget for $10 million and we are still far from it, but we could not postpone the league anymore.
We have some of the funding and we are out there trying to get additional funds for the competition," he said. Lack of adequate sponsorship is the main reason for the long absence of the league.
Denzil Wilks, general manager of the SDF, said his organisation intends to make further contributions to the league.
"We are providing for the officials in the competition and the SDF board has indicated that as time goes along, it will be re-examining whether or not, if any further assistance can be provided," said Wilks.
"It has been out for too long, and it was absolutely critical that we get it going again, and it will take the actual competition to bring on board the private sector because a five-year absence is difficult to recover from," he said.
Twenty-three teams will be taking part in this year's competition, which will be held over 12 weeks.
There will also be a mid-season final between the top teams at the end of the preliminary round of the competition.