Basketball: Breakers hope to play entire backend of NBL season in New Zealand

NZ Breakers hope to play the entire backend of the upcoming season at home.

The Australian NBL has released the 2021/21 schedule, with the Auckland club to play their first 14 games in Australia.

But, their final 14 games have been pencilled in for New Zealand, with four home games outside Auckland in regional areas.

With Auckland still at Alert Level 3, COVID restrictions mean any home-based basketball is realistically impossible for the foreseeable future, but the league is committed to providing Kiwi basketball fans as many games as possible in 2022.

"The NBL is a fan-first product, and playing in front of crowds is vital for the league and our clubs,"  says NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger. 

"Giving supporters an even better chance of seeing their teams compete at home was a key driver in moving things back slightly and in how we've structured the schedule."

Loeliger says the NBL has again adopted a flexible approach, with contingencies built into the schedule for when borders reopen, vaccination rates reach state targets, venues become unavailable due to other events, lockdown rules ease and crowds are allowed back in arenas.

"There are a lot of factors to consider and we've tried to plan for them all, so as some or all of those various events unfold and begin to materialise, we will enter a different phase of the schedule, and certain things change as a result and as we deem necessary.

"We are confident that as both New Zealand and Australia open back up, our schedule will open up with it and we will get back to running the competition like we used to, with all teams playing and traveling from their home bases."

The Breakers will relocate to Australia for pre-season next month, playing four practice matches, before their season opener against Cairns on December 4.

"To be honest, I would sleep in a tent in Australia, if it meant we play basketball and get this season started," says Breakers star Finn Delany.

"It was inevitable we were starting the season in Australia, we saw it coming and we are going to be better prepared this year."