The Coles Express NBL1 is delighted to partner with Basketball Australia to unveil the NBL1 Wildcard Series, featuring the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (CoE) and the NBA Global Academy. The Wildcard Series joins the five state conferences NBL1 North, NBL1 East, NBL1 South, NBL1 Central and NBL1 West in 2022. The top teams from all five NBL1 State Conferences of the prior year will be given the opportunity to play the CoE in a one-off game, with 20 men’s and 16 women’s games to be played in 2022. Four men's teams from each conference and four women’s teams from NBL1 North, NBL1 South and NBL1 West, plus two women's teams from NBL1 Central and NBL1 East, will contest the CoE. The team that finishes on top of the NBL1 Wildcard ladder, based on points percentage, will win the position as the sixth women’s and men’s teams in the inaugural NBL1 National Finals, set to be held later this year. NBL1 General Manager Dean Anglin said this was an exceptional result for the league and for the completion of the basketball pathway in Australia through NBL1. “The NBL1 Wildcard Series will offer some mouth-watering basketball across the year as teams chase a spot in the National Finals,” Anglin said. “We are pleased to have partnered with Basketball Australia to create this unique feature of NBL1, and to have completed the development pathway for basketball in Australia. “The Darwin Salties ensured we had teams based out of every state and territory in Australia, so developing a strategy for the CoE’s inclusion was the final piece of the puzzle. Now it’s time for the fun to start.” The Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence previously competed in the NBL1 in 2019 and featured the likes of Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey and 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Bronze medallist Jade Melbourne. This year’s team will again feature the next generation of Australian basketball stars, comprised of those in the CoE and NBA Global Academy. “We look forward to the opportunity for our developing basketball talents at the CoE and NBA GA to compete against a range of players around the country, providing them with extra real-time game action and experience.” Basketball Australia’s CoE men’s program head coach Robbie McKinlay said. “It’s fantastic that we can get back involved with the wildcard series after an extended break over the past two years.” As the CoE is the only team to play multiple games in the Wildcard Series, should they finish on top of the NBL1 Wildcard ladder, the team that finishes second will qualify through to the National Finals, ensuring the NBL1’s local talent shines on the country’s biggest stage. Qualification into the National Finals requires the winner to also qualify for their own conference finals. In the event that they do not qualify, or they are the eventual conference champion, the qualification will be awarded to the next highest qualifying team.