Hawks to tip-off revamped NBL season draw in Queensland | Illawarra Mercury

news, latest-news, hawks, hawks-basketball, brian-goorjian, the-hawks, illawarra-hawks, nbl

THE Hawks will officially open the NBL season against the Taipans in Cairns as part of a revamped schedule released by the league on Wednesday, with the possibility the club could shift to a Queensland hub prior to tip-off. The new NBL season was due to tip-off with an all-Melbourne blockbuster between United and the Phoenix on January 10, but the Hawks and Taipans will now have that distinction when they face each other at Cairns Pop-Up Arena on January 15. The Hawks-Snakes clash will be the first leg of an opening night double-header that will see the Wildcats playing host to Melbourne United in Perth in the second game. Brian Goorjian’s team will play a second game against the Taipans at the same arena in its other opening-round outing 48 hours later, ahead of their lone round-two fixture against the Bullets in Brisbane on Australia Day. The dates have changed, but the three games on the road in Queensland mirror the Hawks original schedule in the five-round draw released by the league in early December. However, clashes set down for Wollongong against South East Melbourne (January 16) and Melbourne United (January 23) will no longer go ahead. Where they will ultimately be based come opening night remains to be seen, but it’s understood the Hawks will remain in Albury, where they’ve resided since Boxing Day, in the interim as the league continues to consider relocation options. The circumstances are far from ideal, but Hawks president and co-owner Dorry Kordahi says the squad will be treating the trip north like any other season opener. “We cannot wait to start the season against Cairns,” Kordahi said. “It’s been months in the making and although it’s been challenging preparing through a pandemic, the team is ready and our coaching staff is very excited to see what we’ve assembled on the court. “Although this isn’t the situation we hoped for (playing away from home), the latest COVID outbreak in our state and region means this is the safest and smartest way for the NBL season to commence. “The health and safety of the players, staff and fans of the NBL is paramount and I commend the league on its ability to bend but not break under the weight of uncertainty COVID has brought to the beginning of the season. “Irrespective of where we are playing, we just want to get the season underway and see how good we are. We’ve assembled a dynamic and exciting roster and are looking forward to opening the season against a quality team like the Taipans.” The Hawks have been in limbo following COVID outbreaks in Sydney and the Illawarra that have prompted three states to close their borders to NSW, with the abrupt move to to Albury initially meant to precede a shift across the border to Melbourne. Those plans were scrapped once new COVID cases emerged in the southern capital, prompting the Victorian government to follow Western Australia and South Australia in implementing a hard border closure with NSW. The latter two governments’ also closed their respective borders to Victoria, forcing the league to relocate South East Melbourne and New Zealand from Melbourne to Hobart on New Years’ Day. Read more: Adel shrugs off fitness concerns as NBL tip-off looms It was thought the Hawks and Kings – also based in Albury – might follow suit or make an immediate shift north, though travel from regional NSW to Queensland is currently permitted without mandatory 14-day quarantine. The Kings will also play exclusively in Queensland over the opening two rounds against the Bullets and Taipans respectively, with Perth and Adelaide hosting all other fixtures. The two-round schedule does not have either the Phoenix or Breakers hosting games in Hobart where they remain based, while United have remained in Queensland following two preseason road games against the Taipans. “We always knew we would have to respond to the challenges of COVID-19 and the travel restrictions that would be imposed by our various state governments from time to time,” NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said. “This is why we proceeded on the basis of a rolling schedule, which will hopefully minimise the inconvenience for our teams and our fans. It ensures they can train and travel relatively freely and minimise any risk of further disruptions to the season schedule,” “We will continue to work closely with the clubs and be guided by the advice of the relevant health authorities and the safety of our players, staff, officials and the fans will be our number one priority.” With the NBL still pressing ahead with plans for its month-long NBL Cup in Melbourne from February 20, it leaves fans of the Hawks and Kings facing the possibility of not seeing their team in the flesh until April, though Loeliger said teams hosting 14 home games remains the primary goal of the league. “These changes will give of our Australian based clubs the best opportunity to each play 14 home games across the season and be part of the NBL Cup in Melbourne starting on February 20,” Loeliger said. “The changes we have made to the schedule ensure the season can get underway in a timely manner and that we can still play enough games prior to the beginning of the NBL Melbourne Hub and be confident of still being able to complete the season in June. “We will wait and see how things progress around the country over the coming weeks before we finalise the schedule for the following three rounds leading into the NBL Cup in the Melbourne NBL Hub.”


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>