NZ Breakers provide beacon of hope for Aussie-based NZ sports teams

After a challenging 18 months for Kiwi sports teams involved in Australian competitions, there's finally some light at the end of the tunnel.

Basketball's NZ Breakers have announced they aim to play 14 games in New Zealand early next year, during the second half of their Australian NBL season.

"There's no feeling sorry for us," says Breakers captain Tom Abercrombie. "Every Kiwi sports team is in a similar situation at the moment, spending long periods overseas.

"We've learnt a lot off our mistakes and things that we can do better from last year, and we're still really excited by the prospect of coming home."

But after enduring 154 days across the Tasman last season, the prospect of returning still isn't hugely appealing.

"At first, it was a blow, because we expected a normal season," says coach Dan Shamir. "But we are always approaching things optimistically to be successful."

That optimism is shared by Wellington Phoenix, who are currently in the capital, preparing for their return to Sydney for the upcoming A-League season.

"Ideally, we'd come back in January and play out the remainder of our home games," says general manager David Dome. "But there's a big asterisk next to that, obviously."

Those hopes of a homecoming now rest on the highly anticipated reopening of the trans-Tasman bubble, after the Phoenix's attempts to become part of the NZ Government's new home-quarantine protocol were rejected. 

"We've been told quite categorically that the home isolation trial is not open to sports teams, so we either come back once the bubble opens or we have to remain in Aussie to complete the season," Dome adds.

NZ Warriors are already committed to being based at Redcliffe in 2022, but chief executive Cameron George hopes the "landscape will settle down to enable them to play 5-6 home games in New Zealand".

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