NBL hopeful round one will proceed as scheduled, WNBL forced into changes

The NBL’s decision to keep its ‘clean state’ teams in Tasmania for the pre-season tournament should allow its opening round to tip-off as planned next weekend but the WNBL has made significant changes to its fixture.

Western Australia’s decision to boost border restrictions for arrivals in the state has forced the WNBL to delay Perth Lynx’s start to the season until round five, when they are expected to spend several weeks based on the east coast, potentially in Victoria, before potentially playing home games late in the season if possible.

Ryan Broekhoff scored 21 points to lead South East Melbourne Phoenix to a comeback win over Melbourne United in their NBL Blitz match on Sunday. Credit:Getty Images

The WNBL first round will only have two games, with Southside Flyers hosting Bendigo Spirit on Saturday and Sydney University Flames hosting Canberra Capitals on Sunday.

NBL club Adelaide 36ers were due to travel to Perth on Sunday night ahead of their round-one clash with the Wildcats on Friday night and they will be allowed to arrive without restrictions after being in Tasmania for the NBL Blitz, along with expansion team Tasmania JackJumpers, Cairns Taipans and Brisbane Bullets.

The Illawarra Hawks are also expected to be free to play their opening-round game in Adelaide next Sunday despite missing two pre-season games due to a positive test within their camp.

That test was reclassified as a false positive late, which should allow the Hawks to play in round one albeit lacking in match practice.

The NBL’s main concern is the New Zealand Breakers, who are based in Australia but had nine members of their travelling party test positive to COVID last week.

The NBL will make sure they have enough fit players to face the South East Melbourne Phoenix at John Cain Arena this Saturday night.

The Breakers tweeted on Sunday that 12 of their 14 players practiced earlier in the day, with nine of their travelling party still isolating following positive results.

The Phoenix are awaiting the return of star Chinese centre Zhou Qi from Japan, where he played in FIBA World Cup qualifiers, scoring 24 points in his nation’s 79-63 win on Saturday night.

Zhou injured his ankle in the win but the Phoenix remain hopeful he will still be able to suit up this Saturday night.

Phoenix NBA forward Ryan Broekhoff led his side to a comeback 89-87 win over Melbourne United at Parkville on Sunday, scoring 21 points and making two threes to put his side into the lead.

Adelaide won the Loggins-Bruton Cup as NBL Blitz champions after a victory over Brisbane in Tasmania on Sunday. The win will be a special one for first-year coach CJ Bruton, whose father Cal Bruton is celebrated on the trophy alongside Leroy Loggins.

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