NBL fixture: Perth Wildcats avoid early travel to COVID hotspots as schedule gets pushed back


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.

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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.”

Perth's 2021-22 fixture.
Camera IconPerth’s 2021-22 fixture. Credit: The West Australian

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.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 05: Bryce Cotton of the Wildcats runs with the ball under pressure from Sam McDaniel of United during the round 16 NBL match between Melbourne United and the Perth Wildcats at John Cain Arena, on May 05, 2021, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Camera IconAll of Perth’s players will be vaccinated this season. Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

“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



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NBL tip-off set for December, with fans


The NBL will open its season in early December with two competition pools in play as they look to avoid travel restrictions and maximise crowd attendance.

Newcomers Tasmania JackJumpers will host the first match of the season against the Adelaide 36ers in Hobart on Friday, December 3.

In a double-header opening night, the Perth Wildcats then face the Brisbane Bullets at RAC Arena in Perth.

Originally set for November 18, tip-off has been rescheduled with the NBL saying the priority is getting supporters back into stadiums.

“While it’s only a few weeks later than we originally planned, the new start date gives us a greater level of comfort and flexibility as we navigate through the current environment and prioritise having our growing number of fans courtside around the country and in New Zealand,” NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said on Tuesday.

Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide, Perth and Tasmania square off over the first four rounds while the four teams based in states who have battled recent COVID-19 outbreaks – NSW and Victoria – meet early.

The New Zealand Breakers, who will play out of Australia until the New Year, open against Cairns but swing between pools with their home base still to be decided.

“We’ve split our teams into geographic regions, but that won’t affect the full schedule in terms of who plays who and how many times,” Loeliger said.

“The expectation is that relatively early in the new year, as borders continue to open, that we go back to a more traditional home and away season.

“I expect it will be January or February before things truly open up again.”

He was confident crowds would be able to attend all venues in the opening round.

Melbourne begin their championship defence on December 5 against the Kings in Sydney, with ex-NBA star Matthew Dellavedova making his NBL debut for United.

Other highlights of the schedule include a Boxing Day triple-header with games in Sydney, Brisbane and Tasmania while Illawarra and Cairns will host games on New Year’s Eve.

Loeliger said they would try to improve conditions for the Breakers, who spent over 160 days on the road in nine different bases last season.

“Certainly they did it harder than anyone else and we’re hopeful we’ll get them back into New Zealand early in 2022; we want to play home games in front of fans as often as possible,” Loeliger said.

“The reality is we don’t yet know when the (trans-Tasman) bubble will open up but we are very keen to ensure there is the least disruption to the Breakers and we hope to make them as comfortable as possible as soon as possible.”

Loeliger said the NBL had contingencies built into the schedule for when borders reopen, vaccination rates hit targets and crowds are allowed back in arenas.

“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 with all teams playing and travelling from their home bases.”



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NBL fixture: Perth Wildcats avoid early travel to COVID hotspots as schedule gets pushed back


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.”

Perth's 2021-22 fixture.
Camera IconPerth’s 2021-22 fixture. Credit: The West Australian

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.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 05: Bryce Cotton of the Wildcats runs with the ball under pressure from Sam McDaniel of United during the round 16 NBL match between Melbourne United and the Perth Wildcats at John Cain Arena, on May 05, 2021, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Camera IconAll of Perth’s players will be vaccinated this season. Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

“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



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Kiwi NBL boss Justin Nelson relishes wide-open league: ‘It’s anybody’s ball game’


Nothing is ever easy. There is an uncomfortable overlap with Australia and, of course, Covid hovers like a threatening rain cloud. But Kiwi National Basketball League boss Justin Nelson believes his little league that could is set to take another massive stride in the right direction in 2021.

The 40th year of New Zealand’s NBL tips off on Saturday night in Dunedin, when the Otago Nuggets host Wellington’s Saints, followed a night later by the first true instalment of the Queen City’s new basketball rivalry when the Auckland Huskies travel down SH1 to take on the Franklin Bulls.

Of course there are Covid-enforced hitches. The Australian NBL has been pushed back so much there is now a major overlap with the Kiwi league, which threatens the participation of some Kiwi players, and one Australian, who have signed for the New Zealand competition.

And though the league managed to get clearance to bring in two imports per team via managed isolation, there can still be issues, which the Huskies discovered when star signing Armoni Brooks got an eleventh-hour callup to the NBA. Swapping his spot out has proved problematic, which forced the franchise to turn to Australia-based Jeremy Kendle for a short-term fix.

READ MORE:
* Auckland Huskies’ ex-NBA recruit Chris Johnson relishes his return to New Zealand
* Huge boost for New Zealand’s NBL: Critical workers’ exemptions granted for imports
* New Zealand NBL has bold plans for its 40th season in 2021

Nelson, who masterminded the runaway success Showdown in 2020 which played out in an Auckland hub with talent dispersed evenly around the clubs, told Stuff that this year’s Sal’s NBL would once again have to be nimble should Covid demand it.

“We’re mindful there could be spot fires with Covid,” said Nelson ahead of his third year running the league. “Upon reflection we should be really proud of the way we adapted in 2020. I think we were a real leader in sport, and I’m not afraid of Covid causing disruption. I know we would tackle it head-on with a great deal of confidence.

“Given what we went through in 2020 there is absolutely nothing that scares me, and nothing we’re not ready for these days.”

In fact, Nelson believes the 2021 NBL is set to be the most competitive it’s been for a long, long time, which has been one of his driving ambitions since he took on this job. All 93 games will be televised on Sky.

NBL GM Justin Nelson is backing the quality of his league to overcome any challenges it faces in 2021.

Chris McKeen/Stuff

NBL GM Justin Nelson is backing the quality of his league to overcome any challenges it faces in 2021.

“My greatest challenge since I arrived here has been trying to adapt towards a competitively balanced competition,” Nelson told Stuff. “The great thing that came out of 2020, and not knowing who was going to win night to night, is teams have bought into that, and understand the benefits and increased commercial opportunities that come with that.

“I think it’s going to be the making of this league for the next 40 years, the fact any team, if they operate well, recruit smartly and work within the rules, creates a genuine opportunity for fans to believe their team is a chance to win.”

The ANBL overlap is unfortunate and unavoidable, though the trans-Tasman bubble has at least smoothed travel. Title favourites the Hawks are the most affected with four players involved in Kiwis Jarrod Kenny, Jordan Hunt and Hyrum Harris (all Cairns), and Aussie import Jordan Hunter (Sydney). But Tom Vodanovich (Sydney) is also signed for the Huskies, Isaac Davidson (Breakers) for the Franklin Bulls and Taylor Britt (Perth) for the Canterbury Rams.

In order to qualify for finals players must be back playing in the Kiwi NBL by June 24. It’s figured those whose teams don’t make the playoffs should be good to go by round 7 (tipping June 7), while beaten semifinalists should also just squeeze inside the cut.

The Hawks have the additional issue of having one too many tier-3 players (Kiwis in the ANBL) after Harris was whistled up as an injury replacement for the Taipans. They are likely to have to jettison one.

But Nelson is confident the league has more than enough quality to hold its own before the reinforcements arrive.

Chris Johnson will bring NBA experience to the Auckland Huskies for the 2021 New Zealand NBL.

Andrew Cornaga/Photosport

Chris Johnson will bring NBA experience to the Auckland Huskies for the 2021 New Zealand NBL.

He points to former NBA player Josh Selby (Bulls) as an example of the calibre of player the league has been able to attract, on top of a quartet of imports who have featured previously in the Australian NBL in Deshon Taylor (Rams), EJ Singler (Rams), Devondrick Walker (Hawks) and DeAndre Daniels (Jets).

When you throw in other big-name signings, such as 75-game NBA big man Chris Johnson for the Huskies, Giants import and collegiate standout Donte Ingram, the Saints’ 7’2 giant Romaro Gill and top-line Kiwis such as Matt Freeman (coming in from his first pro gig in Germany for Franklin), Jack Salt (back from a two-year injury absence for the Rams), Ethan Rusbatch (returning for the Hawks from a spell out with injury) and Sam Timmins (lining up for his home-town Otago Nuggets) and it’s a league Nelson says has the high-end quality required.

Nelson notes the high-risk/high-reward approach of the busy Hawks, the improvement in squad depth at the Jets and Giants, the unknown factor of the two essentially new Auckland franchises, the return to the NBL of the Nuggets and the established quality of the Saints, Rams and Sharks and is reluctant to tip a winner.

“We are about to see a full-blown season for the first time in a long time that is a wide-open race. That’s what fans want, what sponsors want and viewers want, and it’s the best possible position we can be in.”

*Stuff is the official media partner of the Sal’s NBL for 2021. Coverage of the league can be found at www.stuff.co.nz/sport/basketball



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GAME ON: Goorjian throwing fuel on Hawks NBL tip-off fire | Illawarra Mercury


news, latest-news, brian-goorjian, nbl, the-hawks, illawarra-hawks, sydney-kings, brisbane-bullets, cairns-taipans

BRIAN Goorjian calls it pushing buttons, but there are several ways to describe the lengths coaches in professional sport go to motivate players. Comparisons between sport and battle are overwrought but, at its heart, sport for pay is a combative vocation. Success depends on seeing it as such. It’s why ‘siege mentality’, ‘backs to the wall’ and ‘us against them’ are such common sporting idioms. For coaches, it’s not about Churchillian speeches. In fact, they often don’t wash with athletes who are actually out there taking the knocks and spilling sweat. It’s about tapping into something more visceral. To that end, any small sleight, genuine or perceived, can spark a roaring blaze. If such provocation isn’t immediately apparent, the best coaches have a knack of finding it. For example, it hasn’t escaped Goorjian’s attention that the rejigged schedule has been much kinder to the Kings than the Hawks. Both have been away from home since Boxing Day before shifting to Cairns. The initial draw had the Hawks playing the Taipans twice in the same arena on the opening weekend with an eight-day lead-in to their only round-two fixture against Brisbane. It was a desirable outcome, limiting travel, minimising the scout to one team first up, and providing a lengthy recovery period. The way things subsequently flipped, they’re now facing three games in six days, going from Cairns to Brisbane and back twice. The Kings are playing the Taipans in Cairns twice in the opening two rounds. On consecutive Saturdays. It’s infuriating right? Goorjian hopes so. “We’re not stupid, we know we didn’t get the great end of the stick here,” Goorjian said. “We’re here with Sydney and they definitely got the better end of this thing. They get to sit here and train and play, and then wait [seven days] and play. We’ve got fly, come back, fly come back. “Originally it wasn’t scheduled that way. The change was made and the change suits Sydney. We’re aware of that and we feel we’re treated like the lower end of this, Sydney holds higher ground. “We take that and pump it – what do you think these other teams think of us? What does the league think of us? What’s our schedule like compared to Sydney? “We’ve got to win some games, we’ve got to get this program going and we’re starting from the bottom. The team finished last last year and, when you listen to the broadcasters and the media talk about teams in the top four, we’re not part of that. “No one really rates us as a playoff team and I’m certainly playing that hand and every aspect to it I can.” It’s not necessarily a dig at the NBL, though it sounds like it, it’s just a savvy coach looking to turn a tough situation to his side’s advantage. It’s been a mantra ever since they packed up and shipped out to Albury on Boxing Day. Read more: Childhood mates go from Fitzroy asphalt to the big time They’re not prepared to be back in Wollongong until after the month-long NBL Cup in February. Starting the season solely on the road is an uphill climb, but there’s an opportunity to fly down the other side with a string of home games should restrictions ease down the stretch. It’s why the Hawks are opening their campaign with the type of desperation typically reserved for a team fighting for a playoff spot at the back end of a season. “We haven’t been in Wollongong since Christmas Eve and we’re probably not going to get back until March,” Goorjian said. “It’s a schedule I’ve never had before, and one I didn’t anticipate starting the season. But whatever’s dealt and handed to us, we’re going to be ready for. I keep saying as were traveling, we’re lean in mean, you throw your back pack on and you go to the next place. “We’re going to need to win some of these games so that, when we get to the second half of the year and we’re at home, those games matter. You don’t want to be out of this thing before you get to home. “I’m talking about that all the time, one game a time and every game we’re playing for our lives. We’ve got to get a couple of these [road] wins to make the back half of the season count.” Looking to Brisbane, Goorjian feels familiar enough with counterpart Andrej Lemanis’ style of play, but imports Orlando Johnson and Vic Law – the latter tipped to be an MVP candidate – are an unknown factor. “I think Andrej Lemanis has a system of play and they’re highly organised, I think they’re a deep team, the unknown is their imports,” Goorjian said. “As they were last year for their team, [imports] are going to be very important for Brisbane in whether they make the four or not. We had a much better beat on the imports of Cairns because Cairns’ imports are known to us. “These two important really haven’t played much in the preseason and we haven’t seen much of them. That’s one of the disadvantages of being a first-up on the road type of deal, we don’t really know what to make of their imports. We know we’re playing a good team. “We’ve spent more time talking about their system, how we’re going to defend their system. Our offense isn’t going at one person, we’re more about our tempo. We want to play at this tempo and we’re going to have to defend to play at that tempo.” In a major boost, Goorjian will have his full complement of players on deck, with marquee men Deng Adel and Cam Bairstow both overcoming preseason injury hurdles to make tip-off. “They will [play] and we’re really pleased about that,” Goorjian said. “In the preseason one of the issues was [missing] inside presence. We didn’t have a guy in preseason we could roll the ball into and play off. We’ve had Bairstow back training with us now consistently for close to a month and there’s been a tremendous difference. “We can put the ball into him in the block and they have to come down and respect that or he’ll score. He’s a highly, highly intelligent player and experienced so he’s a really, really important piece. “Deng Adel had his first [full] session [Thursday] and got through. He was monitored closely and we’ve given him the tick of approval to play. He’s got a ways to go to get back to where he was in the preseason but he’s definitely going to help us and give us some minutes in this first game, which is something we probably weren’t expecting two weeks ago.”

/images/transform/v1/crop/frm/ViGe8NXxNszpWGz2Wi7TWd/39e161c9-b7a3-42c3-992c-8633f8238042.jpg/r0_278_5472_3370_w1200_h678_fmax.jpg





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NBL revises season tip-off date


The NBL tip-off date has been revised once again due to new Covid-19 outbreaks, leaving the league and a number of teams scrambling just days before it’s intended start date.

Covid-19 outbreaks in New South Wales and Victoria have forced the postponement of the season-opener between Melbourne United and South East Melbourne Phoenix on Sunday.

As a result, the Phoenix have relocated to Hobart, along with the New Zealand Breakers, while United remain in Cairns and the Sydney Kings in Albury with the Wollongong Hawks.

A revised two-round draw will now see the Taipans launch the season in Cairns against the Hawks next Friday, before Perth host United later that night.

Two games each on Saturday and Sunday will complete the first round.

As a result, the Breakers will now meet last season’s champions Perth Wildcats on one of Sunday’s two games.

The side will then travel to Adelaide to play the 36ers the following Wednesday before closing the first round with another game away to Perth.

Meanwhile, the Breakers will play the first two weeks without star Corey Webster after he sliced a nerve in his hand with a knife in his kitchen last week.

“Corey tried, unsuccessfully probably, to prepare himself dinner and while he’s trying to play one-on-one with the avocado, the avocado has attacked him and he got a pretty serious cut on his palm,” Breakers coach Dan Shamir told Newstalk ZB.

Webster, a shooting guard, has since undergone surgery for the wound which affected his non-shooting hand and will be limited at training for the next month.

“He needed surgery actually because one of the nerves in his palm was damaged,” said Shamir.

“We didn’t know initially how bad it was and how long it would take but yesterday, when he revisited the surgeon, they were very happy that everything is okay and he’ll be able to play; but it will take him another four weeks to fully recover so he will miss the first [two] weeks of the season.

“He won’t be able to do a lot of basketball because the danger is that this wound and stitches need to heal appropriately. Therefore he won’t be able to bounce the ball or catch or anything like that.

“We will do everything around that to keep him in shape as much as possible and I’m just happy that it is his left hand and not his shooting hand and hopefully with time he will be back to himself.”



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Basketball: Breakers face new start date as Covid-19 outbreaks delay NBL tip-off


Sport

NZ Breakers. Photo / Photosport

The NBL tip-off date has been revised once again due to new Covid-19 outbreaks, leaving the league and a number of teams scrambling just days before it’s intended start date.

Covid-19 outbreaks in NSW and Victoria have forced the postponement of the season-opener between Melbourne United and South East Melbourne Phoenix on Sunday.

As a result, the Phoenix have relocated to Hobart, along with the New Zealand Breakers, while United remain in Cairns and the Sydney Kings in Albury with the Wollongong Hawks.

A revised two-round draw will now see the Taipans launch the season in Cairns against the Hawks next Friday, before Perth host United later that night.

Two games each on Saturday and Sunday will complete the first round.

As a result, the Breakers will now meet last season’s champions Perth Wildcats on one of Sunday’s two games.

The side will then travel to Adelaide to play the 36ers the following Wednesday before closing the first round with another game away to Perth.

Meanwhile, the Breakers will play the first two weeks without star Corey Webster after he sliced a nerve in his hand with a knife in his kitchen last week.

“Corey tried, unsuccessfully probably, to prepare himself dinner and while he’s trying to play one-on-one with the avocado, the avocado has attacked him and he got a pretty serious cut on his palm,” Breakers coach Dan Shamir told Newstalk ZB.

Webster, a shooting guard, has since undergone surgery for the wound which affected his non-shooting hand and will be limited at training for the next month.

“He needed surgery actually because one of the nerves in his palm was damaged,” said Shamir.

“We didn’t know initially how bad it was and how long it would take but yesterday, when he revisited the surgeon, they were very happy that everything is okay and he’ll be able to play; but it will take him another four weeks to fully recover so he will miss the first [two] weeks of the season.

“He won’t be able to do a lot of basketball because the danger is that this wound and stitches need to heal appropriately. Therefore he won’t be able to bounce the ball or catch or anything like that.

“We will do everything around that to keep him in shape as much as possible and I’m just happy that it is his left hand and not his shooting hand and hopefully with time he will be back to himself.”



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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.”

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