Keilor Basketball Association believes it now has the ideal pathway for its juniors after being accepted in the NBL1 South competition.
The move for the Thunder is a massive one and makes them the only western suburbs association in the state’s highest competition.
The Thunder joins Casey Basketball Association as the two new teams in the competition which is set to start in April next year.
This year was the first time that the Thunder, who have been playing in the Big V competition, had applied to make the move up.
Coaching director and men’s coach Liam Glascott said it had been a pretty nervous few weeks while waiting to find out if successful.
“It was definitely a bit of a waiting game,” he said.
“And we also had the news that the season [Big V] was cancelled so it was disappointing.
“We were in a meeting with Basketball Victoria and we didn’t show many emotions when we found out.
“We then got in our own Zoom and let loose. We had another meeting with them later on and it was very exciting.
“It’s very exciting for the program at the club and everyone who has been involved.”
For the Thunder it’s the second time they’ve been in the state’s top competition. They were in the old South East Australia Basketball League between 1991 and 1996.
Glascott said many of the players who were involved in those teams were still involved in the club now.
“We still have the photos of the olden days in the early 90s,” he said. “There’s guys I know who are around the club and coaching now who always point them out.”
Glascott said the biggest thing about being in the NBL1 South competition was having somewhere that their junior players can go.
He said they already saw their junior program as a “powerhouse” which can now grow with players able to test themselves against the best from a senior perspective.
For now, the Thunder is starting to look at putting together their squads.
Glascott said they’ll start having discussions with their current playing squads about where they see things going forward.
He said they will also look to have conversations with former players who had left to play elsewhere.
“We’ll start conversations with young athletes who are not part of our club currently.
“There’s five kids across the men’s and women’s programs that are playing at other NBL1 clubs this season.
“We’ll knock on their doors and try and get them back. We want build around them and they can be a big part of our success.”
Among those players are Zac Triplett and Tess Heal, who have recently signed NBL and WNBL development contracts respectively.
Glascott said they would also look at other players who live in the area, but may not have played for the club.
We want to look after our one, but there could be players who are 18-19 and may not be playing in the Keilor ranks but live in the area.
“We could potentially have conversations with them about coming into the program.”