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The Basketball Development Nelson Trust (BDNT) is a Registered Charity whose purpose is to foster, assist and provide development opportunities for basketball in Nelson Tasman region, particularly by:

  1. Using basketball to promote health and advancement of education for school children.

  2. Organising and facilitating coaching programmes in the community.

  3. Supporting the basketball community by providing resources to help participants be successful on and off court.

  4. Identifying talent early and assisting those players.

BDNT was established in 2017 and was granted charity status in 2018.  Four volunteer trustees oversee the Trust's operations to ensure it is delivering value for our community. 



BDNT is the sole owner of the NBS Nelson Giants team in the Sals National Basketball League (NBL), and has an ownership stake in the new Mainland Pouākai team in the GJ Gardner Tauihi League (Women’s).  The Giants franchise was gifted to BDNT by its former owner, Nenad Vucinic, in 2017 to ensure that the Nelson Giants remains a community asset and that any profits are re-invested in growing basketball in our region.

BDNT also contracts the Giants to deliver services such as its Giants in Schools programme.


During the NBL season, the Giants provide 6 - 8 top-level players, who are trained in Basketball New Zealand’s Kiwihoops programme, to deliver weekly in-schools coaching.  The Giants' ability to provide this resource means BDNT can provide top quality coaching to 20 Nelson schools during term 2, and to a smaller number of schools through the rest of the year (using locally based player-coaches).


Through their strong community support and recognition, Giants player-coaches also achieve maximum ‘buy-in’ from schools and students, which ensures a positive experience for tamariki.  The Giants have been delivering in-schools coaching for over 30 years and this programme has seen thousands of Nelson children receive introductory basketball coaching over this time, including all of our Nelson born and bred Giants.  See “Our Programmes” for more information.



Basketball is the fastest growing sport in New Zealand, projected to be the number 1 sport by youth participation in 3 years.


There are low barriers to entry, the only equipment needed is a ball and a court.


Informal participation is easy and popular, promoting health in our community.


Promotes team work and can be used as a vehicle to promote other positive social messages.


Basketball is a truly global sport and has wide reach across all ethnic and social groups in NZ.


Basketball offers unique educational opportunities via US College scholarships

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The Nelson Giants have always had a strong emphasis on team culture and being good role models in the community. As part of a review in 2020, BDNT asked, “what does it take to be a Giant?” and has identified 5 key values which are important to the success of the team, the Giants an BDNT organisations, and basketball in Nelson. These values will be introduced and discussed in our community programmes so there is a message beyond basketball for our young people.

Keep Healthy

We look after our bodies and minds by staying fit, eating well, getting enough rest and remaining drug and smoke free.

Put the Team First

Work constructively towards the common goal, we seek and accept coaching, support team mates and be unselfish.

Respect the Game

There is no game without teammates, opponents, coaches, officials, administrators or fans - we respect them.

Be Inclusive

We want everyone to love basketball as much as we do - everyone is welcome and given an opportunity to play.

Give Back

We give to the game that gives to us - we encourage service to basketball at all levels.


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In 2022 NBS Nelson Giants players provided 250 hours of specialist Kiwihoops coaching in primary and intermediate schools. The programme provides children with an introduction to basketball, improves large ball skills, encourages ongoing participation, health, fitness, teamwork and fun. We are planning to deliver 715 hours of coaching in 2023.


A new programme in 2023, the Giants Experience will involve local, low decile schools having the opportunity to come to Saxton Stadium during the NBS Nelson Giants season where they will have a chance to watch part of a Giants’ practice, participate in a skills session, learn about what it takes to be a Giant and meet the players. We hope to deliver 3 sessions as a trial this year.


Also new for 2023 is a Coach Education programme to help parents and teachers provide more effective coaching for junior players. Many parents don’t know how to help their children learn the basic rules and skills of the game. This programme will provide beginner coaches with the confidence and tools to support our youngest basketballers.


The Mainland Eagles Academy programme has been running in Nelson since 2020. The Academy provides promising athletes and future leaders an opportunity to further develop their skills under a top-level coach, and access to guidance and mentoring in relation to their sporting and educational goals. We plan to expand our focus to school and rep coaches in 2023.


In 2022 BDNT secured funding for 11 new basketball hoops to be installed in 9 schools and at Nelson Basketball Association. The hoops can be lowered so allow much more effective junior coaching, and encourage informal participation at lunchtimes and outside of school hours. We hope to secure funding for 8 further hoops in 2023 and 2024.


“Absolutely love the programme. The students were super engaged and absolutely enamored with Tom. Tom went above and beyond and even came to our Book Week Guest Reader Day. Thank you so much!” 


Emily Cahill, Henley Primary



Michael Fitchett

Head Coach

Mike is passionate about player and coach development in the Nelson Tasman region, having benefitted from this himself as a junior player, under the wing of then-Nelson Giants coach, Nenad Vucinic.  Mike is currently an Assistant Coach of the NZ Tall Blacks and Head Coach of the Nelson Giants.

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Ben Sheat

Assistant Coach

Ben Sheat has recently moved to Nelson and brings coaching experience from the Mainland Eagles programme in Christchurch, Canterbury Rams and New Zealand age group sides. Ben joins Mike and Tom in 2023 as Assistant Coach of the NBS Nelson Giants and the Mainland Eagles Academy.

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Tom Gargiulo

Assistant Coach

Tom Gargiulo is a former NBS Nelson Giant and has delivered many hours of junior coaching.  Tom joined the NBS Nelson Giants as Assistant Coach of the Giants in 2022. In 2023, Tom will return as part of the Giants' coaching team and will assist with the Mainland Eagles Academy also.

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Claire Dallison

Strength and Conditioning

Claire Dallison has been working with the Nelson Giants since 1995 and was the Tall Blacks Strength and Conditioning trainer from 2007 - 2014. Claire also teaches Fitness in the Sport and Recreation course at NMIT and through AUT. Claire will lead the S&C work for the Mainland Eagles in 2023.



Are you a local business that loves to see Nelson athletes and sports teams excel on the national and world stage?  Basketball Development Nelson Trust is about getting kids active and involved in sport at a young age, helping develop their skills and making it fun, and then providing opportunities for talented basketballers to reach their full potential, whether that be achieving a scholarship to attend a US college, joining a professional league, or representing New Zealand.  


We are currently seeking partners to help us continue and grow the work we do, to keep Nelson on the map as a breeding ground for basketball talent in New Zealand.  If you are keen to support, please contact us to discuss. 


We aim to deliver our programmes in as many schools as possible in the Nelson Tasman region, but you are a local school and have a particular coaching requirement, please get in touch and we can work together on programme development and delivery.


If you are part of a community organisation or other sporting group and would like to discuss working together, we would love to chat!  We support cross-code collaboration and initiatives which give kids opportunities to try lots of sports.  

Contact Us
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