NBL boss Larry Kestelman confident the season will start in mid-January

After months of uncertainty, the NBL has confirmed it will release an initial schedule by December 3 while the 2020-21 season is on track for mid-January.

The NBL has proposed January 15 as a start date, but this is yet to be finalised as league officials weigh up whether to use a hub or not to start the campaign.

Frustrated players and club officials have demanded answers to adequately prepare the season – on and off the court.

The release of the schedule early next month will bring some clarity and relief for clubs.

NBL owner and executive chairman Larry Kestelman believes the league is well placed to play games following two pre-season games in Adelaide last weekend.

The 36ers successfully hosted Brisbane in two COVID-safe clashes, which will open the door for more pre-season games in the coming weeks.

It’s understood the Sydney Kings and the Hawks are in discussions to play a game in December, most likely at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney.

Kestelman is confident the league can host several pre-season games.

“We were pleased to be able to stage our first pre-season games last weekend and we now look forward to planning more pre-season games across December and January,” Kestelman said.

“We were particularly pleased to be able to accommodate fans at these games in accordance with government, venue and NBL COVID-safe regulations and protocols.

“This will now allow us to finalise our protocols in consultation with our medical advisers, the Australian Basketball Players’ Association (ABPA) and the clubs leading up to the start of the season that will no doubt be like no other. “We understand there will be challenges as there has been for all sports and we will need to manage these appropriately.”

NBL owner and executive chairman Larry Kestelman confident season will start in mid-January. Picture: AAP Image/David Crosling.Source:AAP

Another spike in the coronavirus pandemic aside, Kestelman says the aim is to play as much of a normal season as possible.

“We are determined to do everything possible to play a full home and away season in front of as many fans as possible, they are the lifeblood of the league,” he said.

“The NBL’s Return to Competition Taskforce will continue to work through the planning for the season and we will provide more updates on the schedule soon.

“It’s our time and it’s great to be in a position to be able to return to playing basketball during what have been challenging times for everyone and when people need sport and entertainment in their lives.”

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