Basketball: COVID-19-hit NZ Breakers hopeful NBL postpones season-opener with 'key starters' and coach on shelf

NZ Breakers hope the Australian Basketball League will postpone their opening game of the season.

The club has been hit by a COVID-19 outbreak inside the team base in Melbourne that has felled nine, including owner Matt Walsh and head coach Dan Shamir.

The season-opener is scheduled for December 4 against the South East Melbourne Phoenix - the same day Walsh expects most of the COVID-infected playing staff to be released from isolation.

Speaking on Sunday, Walsh says the disruption is terrible preparation for their opening game, and doubts coach Shamir will be courtside if the game goes ahead as planned.

"It's a scary thing because with COVID you don't know what direction it's going to go," Walsh says.

"You think you are out of the woods and then it hits you again.

"Our 100 percent focus is with everyone who has had it to get them healthy.

"We have a great group this year and the overwhelming feeling around the group is of positivity to get back on the court. 

"We haven't begun to think what it looks like for Dan to come back - we just want to focus on getting him 100 percent healthy. 

"All the other staff members will look after the performance for the moment."

Walsh confirms all healthy and fit members of the squad returned to practice on Saturday, with others to join on December 2 and 4, as long as they produce negative tests.

The former NBA player is confident the outbreak has been contained to just nine, with all the signs pointing to himself being the last positive case.

Daily rapid response testing is looking positive, which is a relief for Walsh given the wide range of symptoms that hit the camp.

"We had a couple of people who barely had any symptoms but then a couple of people were hit really hard with it including someone who went to the hospital for observation for a brief period of time," he says.

"Everyone is recovering now but it's been wild to see how this virus affects people differently."

Walsh is hopeful but not overly confident the league will postpone the clash with the Phoenix on Saturday, but he completely understands the league's position.

Walsh reveals two key starters are among the infected along with Shamir and general manager Simon Edwards.

Talks are ongoing with the League, whose priority was to make sure the virus was contained.

"Preparing without Dan and a few of our key guys - our key starters is going to be tough, but this is the world we live in. 

"That's in the hands of the NBL. Hopefully we get a reprieve and we play our first game on December 10 and we can prepare properly. 

"If not - we have been through a lot of adversity the last few years - so this is just a drop in the hat - we will get through it.

"We understand there is a lot of scheduling and the decisions the league makes for the betterment of the league, not the Breakers. Our stance is pretty clear on why we believe the game should be postponed."

While Walsh isn't prepared to reveal which players have contracted the virus, he confirmed he likely caught it off his young son who was in the second group of three positive tests.

Walsh says his son is almost out of the woods, but there were a few scary moments for both of them.

"We've had a couple of rough days," he says.

"I was the last of the group to test positive - unfortunately my son was part of the second group so I knew it was coming, I knew I was going to test positive.

"He had some really rough days so my main focus was to take care of him and then it hit me pretty bad, but for the most part I'm feeling fine now and I'll have plenty of time here in isolation to recover.

"Luckily, like most kids, it didn't get him too bad. He had some aches and pains and had a couple of rough nights. 

"He woke me up complaining of a really bad headache so we knew it was coming for him."

The December 10 match is also scheduled to be played against the Phoenix.

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