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Sharks options open after import change

Southland Sharks general manager Jill Bolger concedes she doesn't like the new import rule introduced for the 2018 National Basketball League but has accepted it and is now looking at their recruitment plans.

Teams were previously allowed two imports and unlimited Oceania players, but from next season that has changed to three restricted players (unable to represent New Zealand).

The restricted player rule now means teams are likely to head-hunt three traditional imports instead of the two they have signed in the past.

Even more American or Australian players are now expected to converge on the league.

"We have to look at this as a positive, but we were one of the two teams who voted against increasing the number of import spots," Bolger said.

"Our position has always been that the NBL should be to showcase the sport and to provide New Zealanders with opportunities.

"Our concerns were around three imports potentially limiting the playing minutes of New Zealand players."

Bolger said with the Manawatu Jets returning to the league in 2018 - which has increased the number of teams from seven to eight - it would at least help fill some of the playing spots available for the New Zealanders.

While most teams are likely to go with three imports the Sharks hadn't worked out how the rule change would affect their own player contracting process, Bolger said.

Southland has had success with Australian imports in recent seasons and could now look to add a third import to their roster to bolster their 2018 chances.

Bolger said she hadn't talked yet with coach Judd Flavell about it.

"I'm not saying we'll go for three imports because if we get the top Kiwi players back that we want then why would we want to go to three imports?"

On top of the three import rule, teams must also include three under-22 players on their roster next season as well.

Bolger said they have traditionally carried some young players anyway and didn't feel it would impact their recruitment a great deal.

With the league now at eight teams, it is likely each team will play each other twice, and some three times to ensure it remained at nine home games for each team.

Article and image courtesy of The Southland Times

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