Puneet Varma

Wellington Saints

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Team colours  Blue & white
Ownership  Nick Mills
General manager  Fran Scholey
Head coach  Kevin Braswell
President  Justin Toebes
CEO  Nick Mills
Website  Saints.co.nz
Arena  TSB Bank Arena
Founded  1981
Wellington Saints wwwsaintsconzportals235imagesnewsuocv2vpojpg
League  National Basketball League
Location  Wellington, New Zealand
History  Wellington Saints; 1999–present
Championships  9 (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2003, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016)
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The Wellington Saints are a New Zealand basketball team based in Wellington. The Saints compete in the National Basketball League (NBL) and play their home games at TSB Bank Arena.

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Wellington saints vs altos auckland new zealand countrywide basketball league 1980s


Background

In 1968, Father Terry O'Neil suggested to a tight-knit Senior 'A-team' that they form a St. Pat's Old Boys' Basketball Club. The newly formed club proved healthy competition to the established Marist Club, which became a healthy rivalry and an exciting competition for fans. In 1979, plans were beginning to form in order to start a National Basketball League in New Zealand. The established Marist Club and the Old Boys' Club began to look for a Physical Education teacher to coach both teams. Well-known American Fred Sawaya was appointed, becoming the first imported basketball coach.

Early years

By the time the National League started in 1981, a strong men's team was ready for action. The powerful new club was officially named "the Saints" after it was strengthened by amalgamation of four St. Pat's teams and 12 Southern Basketball Club teams. In 1982, the Exchequer Saints won the second division title with the help of American import Kenny McFadden, promoting them to the first division for the 1983 season. From there on, the Saints built a dynasty in the 1980s, collecting four championships (1984, 1985, 1987 & 1988) and were runners-up in 1983 and 1986. McFadden was named most outstanding guard in 1983 and 1984 after leading the league in scoring both years. McFadden's performance during the 1980s was acknowledged in 2012 by his No. 5 jersey becoming the first in the NBL to be retired.

1990s

The 1990s held dwindling fortunes for the Saints. Following the conclusion of the 1996 season, both the Capital Power Saints and the Hutt Valley Lakers were struggling to survive. They amalgamated for the 1997 season and became TransAlta Wellington after gaining naming rights sponsorship from energy company TransAlta. However, fans of the team wanted a 'real' name and so, for the 1998 season, they became the TransAlta Wizards. Even this wasn't strong enough for the fans and so, for the 1999 season, they returned to the original identity and became the Wellington Saints.

Return to powerhouse team

The Saints returned to title contenders in the early 2000s, as they finished runners-up in 2001 and won their fifth title in 2003. The Saints stumbled through the rest of the decade before becoming the powerhouse team in 2010 following the demise of the Auckland Stars. They went back-to-back in 2010 and 2011 behind the leadership of Lindsay Tait, and with the help of Corey Webster, the Saints garnered their eighth title in 2014. Between 2008 and 2016, the Saints were grand finalists every year except 2009 and 2013. The team won their ninth title in 2016 with the help of import Torrey Craig, Tai Wesley, Leon Henry and B. J. Anthony.

Australian NBL hopes

In February 2014, after many years of angling for a Wellington presence in the Australian National Basketball League, Saints' CEO Nick Mills appeared set to get his wish, with ANBL boss Fraser Neill viewing a capital-based team as a prime candidate for a proposed four-team expansion in the 2015–16 season. With the ANBL hoping to expand from eight to 16 teams within five years, Wellington, Brisbane, Tasmania, Canberra and a second Melbourne side were all in the mix for 2015–16. Initial talks between Mills and Neill were positive but they struck a speed bump during a meeting in May 2014 after Mills' bid differed from the ANBL's preference.

References

Wellington Saints Wikipedia


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