JARRYD MCGUANE THE ADVOCATE North-West Thunder chairman Tony Barker believes the chances of the NBL1 season going ahead are fading.
The NBL1 announced on Wednesday that the South, Central and North conferences seasons will not begin until May 15 at the earliest, which led to the Thunder holding a meeting last week to discuss where they stood.
Barker said the number of clubs abandoning the season, headed by Geelong and Ballarat, plus the border restrictions for travel to and from Tasmania would make it extremely unlikely the season would go ahead.
“Along with the Tassie borders closing makes it very hard, but we are very keen and ready to operate once the league is ready to go, provided the borders are open.
“At this point in time, I can’t see that happening for this season.”
The strengthened border protection and the difficulty to travel across the globe has seen import Samajae Haynes-Jones leave the country this week.
Barker said it was unlikely the American guard was going to return in 2020, but didn’t rule it out for future seasons.
“It will also depend on the Tasmanian border situation for Samajae, but from an economic viewpoint it wouldn’t make sense to bring him back this season,” he said.
“Everybody is disappointed about that, but that tells us that Sam recruited really well in the securing Samajae ahead of the season.
“Once we know what the future looks like, we will be really keen to get him signed up again and at least that is a positive out of it.”
The first two clubs to pull out from the upcoming season, Geelong and Ballarat, cited financial and health concerns for their decisions.
Barker said the Victorian clubs were in a slightly different situation to the Thunder because of their organisational structure at NBL1 and grassroots level and respected their choices.
“Thing that puts a real hole in their business model at the moment is because they don’t have any junior basketball running, they have got no income stream for their clubs,” he said.
“That what normally funds the whole thing, so you can’t make any moves in the NBL1 world until they get their juniors up and running again.”
The NBL1 South season was originally planned to start on April 18.