Stranded basketballers forced to abandon match

A SIX hour delay for a Regional Express (Rex) flight left SEABL team Nunawading stranded in Melbourne on Friday afternoon, which led to league officials abandoning their match against the Mount Gambier Pioneers.

Following an hour delay from the scheduled 3.35pm departure, the Nunawading squad boarded the afternoon flight, however the plane remained grounded following a technical issue with the plane.

“As far as I understand, the whole team was on the plane ready to take off when they were told by crew the plane was experiencing a light issue and would not be departing,” Nunawading officer manger Simone Hallett said.

“I think they indicated they would be looking for another aircraft, but the delays went beyond the deadline for the match to go ahead.”

As league officials monitored ongoing delays of the flight, the decision was made to cancel the match one and a half hours before the 7.30pm tip-off.

“It was just one of those unforeseen circumstances that was out of our control and we were forced to call the game off,” SEABL media manager Shannon Knaus said.

“We tried to make the decision as quickly as we could and kept in touch with both teams throughout the day as the situation progressed.”

Ms Knaus said the league was very wary of the impact a delayed flight would have on both teams, particularly Nunawading.

“Even if the flight did end up getting off the ground, it would not have been fair to have Nunawading land 20 minutes before tip-off and expect them to immediately take to the court,” Ms Knaus said.

“As it happened, the flight did not take off until much later in the evening, so the right decision was made.”

Mount Gambier Pioneers president Tom Kosch said the situation was disappointing for the players, staff, members and fans.

“Unfortunately there was nothing anyone could do about it as it was something that was completely out of everyone’s control,” Mr Kosch said.

“In an ideal world, we will have a re-scheduled home game later in the season and we will make a push for that to service our members and supporter base.”

Mr Kosch said at this stage it was unclear what was going to happen.

“We are working with the league and our main focus is to get the best result for our members and fans,” Mr Kosch said.

“There is no disputing that we have had our fair share of injuries early in the season, so it is important that we get the best outcome from this game.

“Our players and coaches had prepared well to play on Friday, so it is unfortunate for them the game did not go ahead.”

The delayed flight did not only affect Nunawading’s travelling plans, with Mount Gambier Pioneers recruit Tim Coenraad also on the delayed flight.

It is not the first time the Pioneers have had to work to reschedule a match, with a game against Hobart abandoned a few years ago due to a flight cancellation.

Rex was contacted for comment.