Otago Nuggets take party back to Dunedin to celebrate NBL title

Less than 48 hours after winning their first ever NBL title, the Otago Nuggets are in full party mode down in Dunedin.

In a strange twist, however, it's also turned into a bit of a sightseeing trip with some of the squad having never visited the southern city.

The quirky turn was made possible by this year’s player draft, which saw teams pick their squads before diving into the six-week competition.

At the helm of the thrown-together squad, though, was a proud southerner: coach Brent Matahaere, who was welcomed back to the school he teaches at today with a haka as part of the victory tour.

“It was really special,” Matahaere told 1 NEWS.

“I’ve been here a while and I’ve taught the haka for a while but that’s the first one I’ve received.”

The Otago Boys’ High School students were also told to wear white sneakers to mimic Matahaere after he wore them with his suit for the entire tournament.

“I got a new suit from Suits on Wall Street,” Matahaere said.

“I had black shoes and the boys said, ‘Na, na, you can’t wear black shoes with a blue suit.'”

Instead, he sported the white sneakers and after the team won with that attire combination, he decided to make it permanent.

Six weeks later, Matahaere – white sneakers included – was an NBL champion.

Saturday’s win caps off a surreal few months for the southern franchise, who have been out of the competition since 2014.

They re-entered the NBL a year earlier than planned due to the opportunity created by Covid-19 and used it as both a springboard and a chance to lure some of their new recruits there permanently.

But for the time being, this year’s makeshift squad are taking in the taste of victory – and a few tourist spots while they’re at it.