Tall Blacks captain Mika Vukona, has declared for the Sal's NBL 2020 draft.
The veteran of 162 Tests, who plays in Australia with the ANBL's Brisbane Bullets, has decided to return home and play in the competition which gave him his start 20 years ago.
Vukona's presence will be a welcome addition to the tournament with the league largely comprised of young talent, giving future stars the chance to tap into the wisdom and expertise of one of New Zealand's most experienced basketball players.
“This is where I made a living, this is where I got discovered, playing in this League.”
The choice to play in the NZ NBL means Vukona faces an extended period away from his family along with a mandatory two weeks in quarantine, however the opportunity to play in the competition was hard to pass up, the 38-year said.
“It’s always hard every time you leave your family. Obviously coming over and getting the blessing by the family was a huge thing. But quarantine will be something new and I’m always up for new challenges.” Vukona said.
“Just watching [the League’s plan] unfold and the amount of hours and energy that people have put into it, it looks pretty awesome. With everything that’s unfolded in the last couple of weeks, I just thought it would be fun to go back to the roots and enjoy playing. I love playing, it’s a bit of an addiction."
Vukona says that the small workload during the ANBL season and the Covid-19 induced hiatus from the game has further ignited his desire to play.
“I had a pretty light load during the ANBL, plus getting away for ten weeks has been great for me. I think that is why the fire is there."
The NBL tournament features a high number of games in a short time span and Vukona says he is relishing the chance to participate in the intense schedule.
“It’s an opportunity to play and within a six-week period, three games a week – for me, as a basketball nut, it’s heaven.”
Vukona will find out which team he goes to when the draft takes place on June 11 and the competition kicks off on June 23.