ONGOING uncertainty around the Victorian COVID-19 lockdown has forced National Basketball League (NBL)1 organisers to pull the pin on the NBL1 South season. In a year that has already had more than its fair share of interruptions through lockdowns, the NBL1 and Basketball Victoria announced this week that the Victorian and Tasmanian division of the national second tier competition would not continue in 2021.
NBL1 General Manager Dean Anglin said the task was made all the more difficult around the great unknown of when not only the Victorian lockdown would lift, but also the fact that with so many remaining games to make it an equitable season, it would be difficult to fairly play out the year and award a champion.
Anglin said additionally, border restrictions between Victoria and cross-border sides in Tasmania, New South Wales and South Australia made it incredibly difficult to work out a safe fixture.
“We are disappointed to announce the cancellation of the 2021 NBL1 South season,” he said.
“Despite working tirelessly with our clubs to try and find a way to complete the season in a safe manner, the extension of restrictions in Victoria and travel restrictions imposed on our Tasmanian clubs, the Mount Gambier Pioneers and Albury-Wodonga Bandits has forced us to make the difficult decision to cancel the season.”
With almost 150 matches left to be played, the task proved insurmountable, and as much as the league would have loved to have completed the 2021 season – after no 2020 season – the obstacles would proved too great.
“With a combined 148 men’s and women’s games still to be played, there will be no champion and no individual awards for the 2021 NBL1 South season,” Anglin said.
“We thank all of the NBL1 South clubs, Basketball Victoria and our partners for their cooperation and patience during the decision-making process.”
Whilst a disappointing outcome, Anglin was optimistic about the 2022 season, with planning already in the works to bring basketball back to Victoria and Tasmania.
“Planning for the 2022 NBL1 South season is already underway, and we can’t wait for the conference to return bigger and better next year,” he said.
No NBL1 South matches have been played since August 1, with Knox Raiders (10-2), Bendigo Braves (12-3) and Frankston Blues (12-3) among the top sides on the women’s table, while North West Tasmania Thunder (11-3), Frankston Blues (11-4) and Hobart Chargers (11-4) were the teams to beat in the men’s division.
The NBL1 West Grand Finals get underway from tonight, with the finals continuing in South Australia (NBL1 Central) and Queensland (NBL1 North) where premiers will be announced in those men’s and women’s competitions.
Picture credit: NBL1