Melbourne’s NBL teams – United and Phoenix – will play their expected home semi-final games in NSW, most likely Sydney, due to Melbourne’s ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.
Victoria’s lockdown could be extended beyond two weeks with another 11 local cases recorded on Monday.
It means minor premiers United look set to play its home semi-final against the fourth-placed South East Melbourne interstate, with league officials weighing up locations like Sydney.
The Phoenix would have to lose to Brisbane by a mammoth 80 points on Tuesday to miss out on the finals and open the door for the Sydney Kings to finish fourth.
But with this result highly unlikely, it’s looking like United and Phoenix will resume the Throwdown rivalry on neutral territory.
Sydney is in the box seat to host Melbourne United and South East Melbourne semi-final games. Picture: AAP Image/David Crosling.Source:AAP
The second-placed Perth Wildcats could also be impacted if the state’s one case – a maritime worker who travelled from Columbia to Western Australia – sparks a bigger cluster.
For now, though, the two Melbourne teams will be based interstate to start the finals.
United coach Dean Vickerman revealed partners of players had relocated to NSW as the finals loom.
“Some of the wives and partners have moved up to NSW in the last four or five days,” Vickerman said.
“The opportunity to play in NSW and have our families or some of our families join us is going to be great.
“It is looking a lot more like we will play our home semis in NSW.
“There are still a couple of venues that we are looking at, and we think that we can get that locked in pretty soon.”
The NBL semi-finals are set to start on Thursday, with Perth hosting game one of their series against Brian Goorjian’s Illawarra Hawks at RAC Arena at 9:30pm AEST.
It will begin the Wildcats’ quest to win their third consecutive championship, and it will mark their 35th straight appearance in the NBL finals.
United point guard Shae Ili is ready to fire for the minor premiers in the NBL finals. Picture: AAP Image/James RossSource:AAP
United point guard Shea Ili believes the minor premiers are primed to handle the unprecedented circumstances of playing a home semi-final on the road.
“We’re ready for anyone,” Ili said.
“We’ve been a tight group throughout this whole year, and we feel like we have the best chance of winning this championship.
“We’re ready to work this week and it doesn’t matter who we have, we are going to go out there and play our best.”
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