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Gaze urges major reforms to save NBL
Roje Adaimy
15:37 AEST Tue Apr 9 2013

Andrew Gaze believes the NBL would be better off adopting an expanded, promotion-relegation competition which could prevent a club like the embattled Townsville Crocodiles disappearing into oblivion.

Australian great Gaze believes players throughout the competition will be worried for their futures after Townsville's owners sought to hand back their NBL licence following crippling losses of nearly $3 million over the past six years.

Basketball Australia rejected the Townsville move, saying the club's owners needed to first prove they were insolvent.

It's a worrying time for a league which has only eight teams and Gaze, who played a record 612 games in the NBL, said it was a very painful and emotional time for Crocs players whose futures were now in limbo.

"Further to that, I think... players in all the teams will be feeling very nervous about what lies ahead for the competition, which is absolutely understandable," the 47-year-old Gaze told AAP on Tuesday.

"It's a very frustrating thing for basketball because this is just yet another example that enhances the perception that the sport is in disarray - which couldn't be further from the truth."

Gaze said the league's current structure of just eight teams left little room for error for participating clubs.

And, with the looming prospect of the Crocs exiting the competition, the situation could get worse.

"There needs to be a plan put together, a strategy, on how we move forward," he said.

"I personally think it would be difficult to maintain the current situation if you only had seven teams."

The Olympian said he'd like to see the NBL expand the competition and introduce a tiered system that could include semi-professional clubs like those in the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL).

"We have a very strong and I believe a successful competition at the next level down, at that association-based level where it's somewhat semi-professional," Gaze said.

"And that is where the numbers of the game is at its strongest and it's where the strength of the game is at its best."

Gaze said the current NBL system makes it difficult for SEABL teams to aspire to play at the elite level and vice versa.

He argues a tiered competition would let struggling NBL clubs drop down and compete at a more appropriate level so they don't "go away to the oblivion".

"I believe that's a good system to have whereby you have competitive forces and a competition situation where teams can aspire to play at the highest level and there is a pathway for them to do it," he said.

According to Gaze, Basketball Australia will be considering major reforms outlined in a recent discussion paper within a month of the season's end.


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