MELBOURNE - The Board of Basketball Australia (BA) have given their backing to a request from FIBA Oceania to treat the region as one 'common market' for basketball players competing in Australian club competitions.
Basketball Australia's Chief Executive Officer, Kristina Keneally, has confirmed that the Board had given assent for the changes which are expected to be of benefit to all aspiring players from the Oceania zone.
"Effective immediately, players of New Zealand or Pacific Island nationality will be free to participate in leagues in Australia without restriction - provided they have satisfied government immigration requirements and obtain a FIBA 'A' Licence if required for that league," she said.
The decision by Basketball Australia further extends a previous arrangement which was adopted when the New Zealand Breakers joined the (Australian) National Basketball League (NBL).
This agreement now extends to all Pacific Island ballers, with the rights having formerly been enjoyed by only New Zealanders and Australians.
FIBA Oceania Secretary General Steve Smith was quick to praise Basketball Australia for their decision and expressed his satisfaction with the outcome.
"It is pleasing to see that our development programmes for basketball across the region are bearing fruit," he said.
"The player, coach, referee and administrator training programs we have in place as well as the enhanced competition structure we have created over the last 20 years, particularly engaging basketballers of a much younger age, have created players able to compete at an elite level.
"There are several players at schools, colleges and universities in the US and Europe, playing basketball because of the development of their talents within the FIBA Oceania system.
"The decision by Basketball Australia will allow them to compete for places in Australian clubs on an even footing and without needing to 'nudge aside' one of the semi-professional players usually from the USA on team rosters” continued Smith.
"I hope the opportunity for Pacific Island players to play at a high level on Australian teams will further contribute to the rise in the standard of Pacific Island basketball."
FIBA Oceania has similarly asked Basketball New Zealand to consider this proposal for their domestic leagues.
Given the strong cultural and historical links between some of the nations of the Pacific and New Zealand, the decision of the Board of Basketball New Zealand in keenly anticipated.