The NBL have delayed the start of the season until December 3 and ensured the Perth Wildcats will avoid the nation’s major COVID hotspots until January 30.
And all Wildcats players will be vaccinated for the start of the season, avoiding any potential issues with changing laws.
The league has today released a fixture heavily designed around playing at venues with fans in attendance while avoiding border closures.
SCROLL DOWN FOR THE FULL FIXTURE
Matches were initially scheduled to start on November 18 but the later tip-off has eased the COVID-19 pressures on the NBL.
The fixture will see the Wildcats playing seven of their first nine games at home, with their only travel to Adelaide and Brisbane during that time.
The 36ers, Brisbane and New Zealand will all play in Perth twice in the early rounds.
Perth won’t play in NSW until January 30 and their first match in Victoria isn’t until February 26.
“It’s a credit to the league that they have been able to put together a fixture that presents the least amount if interruptions that seems possible,” Wildcats CEO Troy Georgiu said.
“Our priority was for our members to be able to attend games. The fact that we have a lot of home games during school holidays is great. People can watch summer hoops at night and we have some mouthwatering games during that time.
“We’ve got early games like Vic Law playing against his former team and a new JackJumpers team that is filled with former Wildcats.”
With 28 games scheduled across a 10-team competition, the Wildcats will play Adelaide four times and the remaining teams on three occasions. They won’t play any of the Victorian or NSW teams more than once at RAC Arena.
While that will require them to spend time in the nation’s most COVID-impacted states, Georgiu said the entire squad would be vaccinated.
“We didn’t mandate it so we are pleased that our players put themselves into a position where they can play even if laws come into place at some point during the season,” Georgiu said.
The NBL has planned for all teams to have four practice matches but an NBL Cup has not been announced.
NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said the fixture could change if required, but everyone was looking forward to a more normal season.
“We are confident that as the country opens back up, our schedule will open up with it and we will get back to running the competition like we used to,” he said.
PERTH WILDCATS 2021/22 SCHEDULE
(Home games in bold)
Fri Dec 3 v Brisbane Bullets at RAC Arena
Sun Dec 12 v Adelaide 36ers at Adelaide Entertainment Centre
Fri Dec 17 v Tasmania JackJumpers at RAC Arena
Thurs Dec 23 v Brisbane Bullets at RAC Arena
Sat Jan 1 v Brisbane Bullets at Nissan Arena
Sat Jan 8 v New Zealand Breakers at RAC Arena
Fri Jan 14 v New Zealand Breakers at RAC Arena
Thurs Jan 20 v Adelaide 36ers at RAC Arena
Fri Jan 28 v Adelaide 36ers at RAC Arena
Sun Jan 30 v Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena
Fri Feb 4 v Cairns Taipans at RAC Arena
Sun Feb 6 v Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena
Sun Feb 13 v Illawarra Hawks at WIN Entertainment Centre
Fri Feb 18 v Melbourne United at RAC Arena
Sun Feb 20 v Adelaide 36ers at Adelaide Entertainment Centre
Thurs Feb 24 v Tasmania JackJumpers at RAC Arena
Sat Feb 26 v South East Melbourne Phoenix at John Cain Arena
Sat Mar 5 v Tasmania JackJumpers at venue TBA
Sat Mar 12 v Illawarra Hawks at RAC Arena
Sun Mar 20 v Melbourne United at John Cain Arena
Thurs Mar 24 v Sydney Kings at RAC Arena
Sun Mar 27 v Melbourne United at John Cain Arena
Sat Apr 2 v Cairns Taipans at Cairns Convention Centre
Tues Apr 5 v Illawarra Hawks at WIN Entertainment Centre
Fri Apr 8 v South East Melbourne Phoenix at John Cain Arena
Thurs Apr 14 v Cairns Taipans at RAC Arena
Sat Apr 16 v South East Melbourne Phoenix at RAC Arena
Sat Apr 23 v New Zealand Breakers at venue TBA