ANBL: NZ Breakers in COVID-19 lockdown before season opener against Adelaide

NZ Breakers face a strict COVID-19 lockdown in preparation for their Australian NBL opener against Adelaide on Friday.

The Auckland team have been based in Hobart, Tasmania, over recent weeks and face the prospect of playing their 'home' games there, until international border restrictions ease.

But with coronavirus hot spots popping up all over Australia, threatening the continuity of the basketball competition, NBL management has mandated a 72-hour lockdown before each game, with players and staff able to leave their accommodation for just one hour a day, aside from practice or a league-approved promotional activity. 

"We’ve already been doing this for our four pre-season games," says Breakers general manager Simon Edwards. "The most notable change to our daily routine is we’re only allowed out of the hotel for an hour tops.

"That has been quite an adjustment for a number of players and staff, but we're all here to play basketball and bring a championship back to New Zealand.

"Adhering to a 72-hour rule is definitely a challenge. In their downtime, the players just want to go out for a walk, which they are allowed to do, but it can't be more than an hour. 

"Everybody changes to their surroundings and the environment that we are now in."

The Breakers have already found their schedule affected by COVID outbreaks. They were due to open their campaign in Perth last weekend, but a Western Australia border closure trapped their opponents in Queensland, with a two-week isolation period awaiting them when they finally arrived home.

But coach Dan Shamir has taken a glass-half-full attitude to the changes imposed on his team during the pandemic.

While the Breakers would normally make a trans-Tasman trek the day before their away fixtures, they have arrived in Adelaide four days out from tipoff, with plenty of time to acclimate.

"We have the luxury of getting to Adelaide in advance," says Shamir. "This is one of the advantages of this season.

"There are a lot of challenges in being away from home, but it's an advantage that we are in Australia, we don't need to travel a lot, and we get to train in an amazing facility and prepare for the game.

"In my personal vocabulary, I don’t use the word 'hard' too much. The COVID protocols, being away from home… all these things require adjustment and present challenges to all of us, but we have no reason to complain about our pre-season."

Tall Blacks centre Rob Loe is battling to prove his fitness for the game against the 36ers, making a surprise appearance at training, after hyperextending his leg. 

"We are taking it day by day and seeing progress, incorporating him into practice and hoping he’ll be able to play on Friday."