NBL could go country in 2021 reboot

Fresh off coming out of lockdown, Victoria has emerged as the favourite to host a hub to start the 2021 NBL season with the league set to release a draft draw in mid-November.

The State Basketball Centre is looming as the main venue with Rod Laver Arena and Melbourne Arena unavailable during January due to the Australian Open tennis.

Regional centres Bendigo and Ballarat, which have hosted NBL games, are also being discussed as potential locations.

It comes as mystery surrounds next season as league officials navigate restarting the competition on January 15 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As it stands, the NBL are in talks with the Victorian, NSW, and South Australian governments about potentially hosting a hub.

Victoria has expressed the strongest interest as the state looks to re-open and secure big events following months of lockdown.

There is also a chance that the NBL will not require a hub to restart the season depending on declining coronavirus numbers as state borders start to reopen.

This could allow teams to remain at their home venues while a full season schedule can be completed.

The uncertainty around the season has prompted frustrated NBL club officials have reached out to the league desperate for some confirmation on a summer schedule.

Hawks owner Dorry Kordahi is one who will approach league to gain clarity over the upcoming season.

Kordahi has been working overtime to relaunch the Wollongong-based club under legendary coach Brian Goorjian, only months after the franchise was placed into administration for the second time in five years.

“It has been hard for us relaunching the club, but I’m chatting to the league and I’m hoping to get some answers,” Kordahi said.

“If we are starting the season on January 15, then we at least need to have six weeks’ notice on the schedule.

“If we have a schedule to work with, we can give our fans an opportunity to see what the season looks like.

“Things can change week by week with the pandemic, but at the moment we are getting some positive news.

“We are all hoping that by January all the state borders will be open, then we are going to have a comfortable season playing at home.”

Jacob Wiley of the Adelaide 36ers (L) is challenged by Andrew Bogut of the Sydney Kings during the 2018 NBL Blitz in Ballarat, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger confirmed the league may not need to use a hub to restart the season, but plans are in place given the unpredictability of the pandemic.

“We need to have a contingency plan that would involve a hub in some way if required,” Loeliger said.

“I think it would be complacent to proceed on the assumption that we wouldn’t need a hub and we would look pretty silly if part way through the season we needed one and we hadn’t sorted something in advance.”

On the back of Melbourne easing lockdown restrictions and state borders opening, Loeliger said the league remained on track to start on January 15.

“We are starting to build some confidence that there is genuine light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

“While the vale has been lifted, we are still a long way away from being outside of the woods completely and we are very conscious of that having lived through the virus first-hand here in Victoria.

“The season start is still three months away and hopefully the best part of a six-month season, but we can’t be complacent, and we need to plan very carefully.”

Straight outta lockdown like: https://t.co/ea0NDJWakH

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