Basketball New Zealand (BBNZ) is set to add a new dimension to its ground-breaking GJ Gardner Homes Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa competition in 2023 with the announcement of an exciting new ‘Rapid League’ for its athletes.
Rapid League is believed to be a world first, with the games set to play prior to every Tauihi clash in 2023. Each Rapid League game will consist of four by four-minute quarters, played mostly under the same rules - save for a few tweaks to speed the game up.
The crux of the innovation is that the starting five players selected for the Tauihi game, which immediately follows the Rapid League contest, cannot play in the earlier clash – meaning the Rapid League is reserved only for the seven players selected to come off the bench in the later game.
The new competition will include its own championship ladder - with wins in the Rapid League also earning points on the official Tauihi ladder - plus Rapid League will have a season MVP and other individual awards.
Tall Ferns head coach Guy Molloy cites Rapid League as a ‘revolutionary innovation and a game-changer’ for women’s basketball in New Zealand.
“Rapid League will help fast-track player development in a major way and the flow-through to the Tall Ferns is a positive. I really like the concept and that every player across the squad has a legitimate role to play,” says Molloy.
Walter Taulelei, general manager of this years’ Tauihi champions the Tokomanawa Queens, believes Rapid League is something that players and fans can get really excited about.
“Innovation is the future currency of all sports, and the inclusion of the Rapid League in Tauihi shows basketball’s intent to be the leading participation and entertainment sport in New Zealand,” says Taulelei.
“Rapid League will stress test the depth of every roster, impressing on players, coaches and management that their contribution come game day will significantly impact the shape of each team’s entire season.
I think Rapid League will be one of those things we look back on as a positive step forward for the development of players and the game overall.”
Rapid League is the brainchild of Sky Sport’s Justin Nelson, who has played a key role in the rise of the Sal’s NBL and Tauihi leagues over the past few years. Nelson says there were several factors behind the idea of creating Rapid League.
“My focus is always on creating new commercial opportunities for the league and all the teams, getting the game more coverage on television, while also finding a way for players down the end of the bench to play a more meaningful role - which will also make a coach’s life easier,” says Nelson.
“I hope the fans and viewers enjoy it. I know they will love seeing every player on the team playing. Fans don’t like seeing players sitting on the bench and not being involved, they want to see the next crop of stars on court. Rapid League will do this.”
Some of the other Rapid League rule tweaks will include no personal fouls - only team fouls, as well as four-minute quarters, overtime periods of just one minute, and teams will also have access to one player time-out each game.
Molloy believes that with greater opportunity to play comes quicker development, which is music to his ears.
“Our players need to be playing more regularly, and Tauihi has already proven to be a success for our top-end talent. What I really like about Rapid League is the opportunity to perform is now spread across the whole team, especially to the next crop of players.
“With this innovation we will see players emerge and develop quicker, and they will stay in the game longer because they are active, which is important for us. Going forward the Tall Ferns programme will benefit from Rapid League.
“This could be one of the most revolutionary innovations I’ve seen in basketball in many years,” concluded Molloy.
More info on Tauihi can be found below: