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NBL21 season start delayed till January

The NBL season will not start until January 2021 at the earliest, the league announced on Monday.

The decision comes after consultation with key club members, stakeholders and sponsors, amidst the ongoing travel restrictions caused the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hungry Jack’s NBL Owner and Executive Chairman Larry Kestelman said: “After consulting with the nine NBL clubs and the Australian Basketball Players’ Association and acting on the advice of our NBL Return to Competition Taskforce, we have decided the start of the season will be delayed until at least mid-January. “The main reason for pushing the start of the season back to the new year is to give the clubs the best opportunity to play in front of as many fans as possible. “We will remain flexible about the exact start date and this will depend on a number of factors including travel and border restrictions, community transmission numbers and availability at venues across Australia and New Zealand. “We intend to play a full season and, if needed, we will play in one or more hubs to achieve this. We are currently having positive discussions with a number of interested States about potential locations.

The NBL20 season ended abruptly due to the pandemic in March, with the Perth Wildcats awarded the title after holding a 2-1 lead in the best of five series.

Now the new season is set to have a completely different look, and could run as late as May to make up for a three month delay.

NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said: “We need to adopt appropriate health and safety protocols to ensure we can schedule a season that we can deliver in its entirety and does not unnecessarily impact financially on our Clubs. And having as many fans as possible at those games is critical to us. “The NBL has enjoyed tremendous growth over the past five seasons and is now considered one of the best leagues in the world outside of the NBA. We are determined to continue to build on that momentum and repay the faith fans have shown in us. “We will continue to provide regular updates over the coming weeks and months including an announcement about an exact start date and schedule of games as we get closer to the season.

IMAGE: The Australian.

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