Basketball: NZ Breakers cancel pre-season game, after four positive COVID-19 tests force players, staff into isolation

NZ Breakers have cancelled a pre-season game and entered COVID-19 isolation, after returning four positive tests in Melbourne.

The Australian NBL team were preparing to face Illawarra Hawks on Thursday, when one of their 39-strong touring party fell ill. While an initial test produced a negative result, further testing the next day came back positive.

The entire group began self-isolation at their Melbourne apartments and were all tested, with three further positive results emerging.   

All members of the party are double-vaccinated against the coronavirus, but will remain in isolation and undergo testing until further notice. None have been admitted to hospital.

The game against the Hawks has been called off.

"Our team has followed best practices, but unfortunately, a number of individuals have experienced symptoms,” says Breakers owner Matt Walsh.
"We will continue to follow the advice of medical professionals and the NBL, and look forward to being back on the court soon."

Walsh confirms the four include at least one player.

"Given what we've gone through over the last few years, this is just a little hiccup," he says. "It's not ideal - no question about that - but better now than the first week of December.

"The hope is that we just have the four in the group and we can start to prepare again tomorrow, and we hope to schedule another pre-season game against one of the Melbourne teams.

The Breakers are preparing for their second Australia-based campaign, with their opening 14 games all scheduled across the Tasman, although they hope to return home for an extended home stand over the second half of the season.

All contracted players were required to undergo COVID-19 vaccination and the club parted ways with star point guard Tai Webster, after he chose not to fulfill that condition.

Victoria has eased COVID restrictions for the fully vaccinated, as the state nears its 90 percent vaccination milestone. More than 800 people tested positive for COVID in Victoria on Tuesday, while there are 9420 active COVID cases in the state.

Forward Finn Delany hit a miraculous buzzer-beating three-pointer to guide the Breakers home over South East Melbourne Phoenix on the weekend - their second win in three pre-season games - and they face the Phoenix again in their season-opener on December 4.