The Newfoundland Rogues basketball team will leave the American Basketball Association and join The Basketball League for its upcoming season, the team leadership announced Thursday.
Team owner Tony Kenny said COVID-19-related travel difficulties played a major role in the decision to change leagues. The Newfoundland Rogues played — and won — six games as part of the American Basketball Association before being forced to suspend games last winter.
The TBL has a partnership with the National Basketball League of Canada, meaning the Newfoundland Rogues will play against teams from both leagues.
"We had an opportunity here, because [TBL] has a partnership with the NBL of Canada, that we can now play games in Canada, which cuts down a lot on the travel," he said. "If they're in Canada we know the game's going ahead, we don't have to worry."
Kenny said the team will have a 40 game schedule, with 28 games played at the Mary Brown's Centre and 12 on the road. He said the league will also have playoff games and an all-star game. The Newfoundland Rogues will host teams from the United States as well as Ontario and Quebec though its partnership with the NBL.
"We're going to have the best of both worlds," Kenny said.
Kenny said the season is set to begin in late January and go until the middle of May, with playoffs beginning immediately after. He said the team and schedule will be finalized by Oct. 1.
Head coach working to fill roster
Head coach Jerry Williams said several players who were part of the 2021-22 roster have moved on, and he's working to fill spots on this year's team.
"I'm talking to a lot of guys about coming to Newfoundland to play," he said.
Williams said he's been in talks with former NBA player Ron Artest, among others. He said more than six players have been confirmed so far.
"You'll be surprised," he said.
David Magley, former NBA player and president of TBL, said the league uses NBA rules, including a 48 minute game and offensive scoring.
"We think that's what fans want to see," he said.
Room for two basketball teams?
Magley helped found the league in 2018, which now has about 52 teams, including two in Canada. He said the league is hoping to have 24 teams in Canada within the next four years. He said the TBL will also help the NBL expand in Canada, after almost three years plagued by interruptions due to COVID-19.
"I'm helping grow both leagues at the same time, and there really shouldn't be much of a discernible difference when you see us play," he said.
The Newfoundland Rogues is one of two basketball teams in St. John's — the other is the Newfoundland Growlers, which plays at the Memorial University field house as part of the Canadian Elite Basketball League.
Magley said he believes there's room for two basketball teams in the city.
"Why can't two leagues, especially two that really don't overlap much in schedule, play at the same time?"
The now-defunct St. John's Edge basketball team played as part of the NBL, but was forced to suspend its season in fall 2021 when St. John's Sports and Entertainment ended the team's lease at the Mary Brown's Centre.