New start date for NBL season

The start of the NBL season has been delayed until Friday week as part of a rolling and revised draw due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and border closures.

The season was supposed to start on Sunday with the “Throwdown” between Melbourne United and South East Melbourne Phoenix in Bendigo.

However, Victoria and NSW now won’t host matches during the opening stages of the season.

The season will instead tip off five nights later with matches in Cairns and Perth.

The Taipans will host the Hawks at the Cairns Pop-Up Arena, while Melbourne United will travel west to meet the Wildcats at the RAC Arena.

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The Throwdown is off for now as Mitch Creek and South East Melbourne Phoenix will no longer open the NBL season against fellow Melbourne club United. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“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.

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“The changes we have made to the schedule ensure the season can get underway in a timely manner and … be confident of still being able to complete the season in June.

“We are also very hopeful of the New Zealand Breakers being able to play some home games in front of their fans in New Zealand later in the season.”

The Breakers and the Phoenix are currently based in Hobart, the Sydney Kings and the Hawks are in Albury, while Melbourne United are in Cairns.

“This ensures they can train and travel relatively freely and minimise any risk of further disruptions to the season schedule,” Loeliger said.

“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.”

NBL owner and executive chairman Larry Kestelman said: “I want to thank all

of our clubs, players, officials and our fans for their patience and understanding as we have prepared for the season.

“We’ve always said this will be a season like no other and to expect the unexpected.”

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