The National Basketball League has delayed the 2021-22 season’s start by a month, with tip-off confirmed for November 18.
NBL officials announced the commencement date on Friday and will issue further details on the season’s schedule soon.
Disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led to the NBL’s decision to push back from the usual October commencement date once again.
NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said it meant perfect sense in the current climate, as Australia grapples with a COVID-19 crisis driven by the delta variant.
“Having a start date confirmed for November provides clarity for our clubs, players, coaches, staff, partners, broadcasters and fans, as we all prepare for what promises to be another amazing season,” Loeliger said.
“Based on expert advice and based on our own experiences from last season, delaying a month gives us more flexibility and most importantly, it provides fans a much better chance of attending more games in Australia and New Zealand as the number of people vaccinated against COVID increases towards the end of the year.
“We know our fans have been eagerly awaiting this announcement and we hope they continue to get right behind the players and clubs as the NBL continues to break new ground and takes things to the next level.
“There’s so much to look forward to with the inclusion of our newest team, the Tasmania JackJumpers, an exciting new group of Next Stars set to launch their careers, and many of our Olympic bronze medal heroes will be coming back home to play.
“We can’t wait for November 18 when another extraordinary season of world class basketball begins.”
All 140 NBL regular season games will be broadcast live, with the vast majority of matches exclusive to ESPN, as per the new broadcast deal.
ESPN and the NBL extended their broadcast partnership for a further three seasons last month, with the landmark deal seeing an expansion of television and digital rights – as well as exclusive live coverage.
ESPN will air all but two games each round exclusively, and also key matches during the finals series.