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NBL Season Start Pushed Back As South Australia And Queensland Play Host

T
he NBL has been forced to push back the start of its 2020/21 season to Friday, January 15, due to the recent harshening of Australia’s state border restrictions following the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

After being forced to postpone its opening round of games at the start of January, the NBL has now confirmed its round one schedule, with Melbourne United and Adelaide 36ers set to start the season at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, before the remainder of the games are split between Queensland and South Australia.

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions across Western Australia, NSW, Victoria, and now Brisbane due to the recent confirmed cases in NSW, Victoria and Brisbane, the Perth Wildcats have been put into mandatory quarantine in Western Australia after playing pre-season matches in Brisbane and will not play in round one as a result.

NBL commissioner, Jeremy Loeliger, said the league is still planning on allowing all clubs to host 14 home games over the course of the season.

“We are tremendously excited about NBL ’21 tipping off on Friday with five games scheduled over the first four days of the season and we can’t wait to play in front of as many fans as possible over the coming months,” Loeliger said.

“The latest changes to the schedule have been made necessary by the developments in Queensland where we currently have four teams, Brisbane Bullets, Cairns Taipans, Melbourne United, and Adelaide 36ers.

“We will start the season in Cairns and Adelaide, but we will continue to monitor the situation in Brisbane in the hope we can also host a game there in the opening round.

“We will continue to stay flexible and be guided by the relevant state health authorities, but our intention is still for all teams to play 14 home games across the season when they are able to do so.

“As always, we remain grateful to our clubs, players, officials, partners and fans for their understanding and patience as we navigate these ongoing challenges and now look forward to the start of our 43rd consecutive season,” he said.

The season was due to start with a match-up between Melbourne United and the South East Melbourne Phoenix on Sunday in Bendigo, but the last-minute schedule change has now seen the Phoenix relocated to Hobart, along with the New Zealand Breakers, while the Hawks and Sydney Kings were forced to fly out of Albury to Queensland in short notice in order to start the season.