21 July 2020

Basketball ready to bounce back after season delay

| Henry Jacobs
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Tuggeranong Vikings

The women’s and men’s Premier One competitions begin on Wednesday. Photo: Tuggeranong Vikings Basketball.

The stage is finally set for the beginning of Basketball ACT’s senior winter competitions after a lengthy delay due to coronavirus-enforced restrictions.

Originally scheduled to restart last week, the Premier League’s return was pushed back another week as officials waited for approval from the ACT Government to resume full-contact community sport. The season now tips off tonight (22 July) at Tuggeranong and Belconnen.

“It’s going to be great; we’re really looking forward to it kicking off,” Basketball ACT CEO David Simpson said.

“We’ve got a lot of protocols that we need to put in place, particularly around maintaining smaller numbers within the stadium. A tighter area, a little bit harder to do and a bit harder to manage, but we’re pretty much up and ready to go for it.”

Defending Premier One men’s champions Tuggeranong Vikings get their campaign underway against the NBA Global Academy while reigning women’s champions Ginninderra Rats begin their bid for three titles in a row against the Centre of Excellence. Premier Two tips off tomorrow night.

Tuggeranong Vikings

2019 Premier One men’s champions Tuggeranong Vikings. Photo: Tuggeranong Vikings Basketball.

For many, it will be their first look at the revamped Belconnen Basketball Stadium after the shutdown gave Basketball ACT a chance to resurface the courts and perform much-needed maintenance on the facility.

“It looks fantastic. You just have to look around. The floors have all been done. We’ve painted throughout, done a big tidy up, it looks great. We’re really looking forward to having people here to enjoy the stadium,” Mr Simpson said.

“We gave away over 100 hours of free court hire to our member clubs and our social teams throughout June and July, so a lot of people have had an opportunity to get on the court and try it out, but we’re really keen to get the games up and going and get people to enjoy the stadium.”

Junior winter competitions tip-off on Friday and senior social follows on Monday. Registration numbers have been impacted slightly by COVID-19, but Mr Simpson is confident it’s just a blip.

“It wasn’t unexpected. We’ve had a lot of teams that have come to us said ‘we do want to play but we’re still a little bit concerned so we’ll be back next season,’” he said.

Byes for Gunners and Nationals

Natalie Hurst

Former Canberra Capitals guard Natalie Hurst will coach the Nationals in 2020. Photo: Basketball ACT.

The Canberra Gunners have plenty of time to reflect on a first-up win in the 2020 Waratah League with a bye this weekend before turning their attention to Sydney outfit Norths Bears on 1 August.

Tony Plunkett’s side defeated the Bankstown Bruins 87-72 on Saturday and will be hoping it is a sign of things to come after a relatively disappointing debut season in the NSW state league.

The Gunners’ finished 2019 in ninth place with seven wins from 15 games, but a revised nine-game calendar and four-team finals format mean a slow start is not an option this year.

The Canberra Nationals’ wait to bounce back from last season’s heartbreaking grand final loss continues with a bye in the opening two rounds.

Recently retired Capitals guard Natalie Hurst takes charge of the Nationals for the first time when they face Norths Bears, a rematch of the 2019 semi-final, in a double-header with the Gunners at Belconnen Basketball Stadium on Saturday, 1 August.

Head to the Basketball ACT website for more details.

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