Pioneers’ NBL1 South debut postponed due to coronavirus pandemic

Richard Hill Dsc 2353 TBW Newsgroup
SEASON POSTPONED: Mount Gambier Pioneers head coach Richard Hill at the closed Icehouse, with the NBL1 season now also postponed. Picture: THOMAS MILES

THE COVID-19 coronavirus continues to disrupt sport in the region, with the Mount Gambier Pioneers’ entry into the NBL1 South competition put on hold.

The season was set to start on April 18, but has now been pushed back to at least May 15.

“We are just hanging, wondering what is going on,” Pioneers head coach Richard Hill said yesterday.

The men’s American import player Quinton Chievous arrived Saturday, but has now been sent back home, as have Adelaide pair Nick Desantis and Tom Kubank, while Sydney Kings player Jordan Hunter will not come down at this stage.

“We sent our import home,” Hill said.

“I really feel for him.

“He came in on Saturday and we put him in isolation voluntarily – we did not have to because he came in a day before the restriction applied, but we felt like we needed to.

“Once we got news the season would not start before May 15 and the likelihood it could be even longer, there was no point in him being here.

“We are not allowed to train – we cannot even get out on court with the players.”

Hill said the Pioneers women were in the same boat, with players due to arrive, which has all been put on hold.

“There is no point in anyone who is not living and working here being here,” he said.

“There is nothing to do.”

Hill said that would even affect his own position.

“I will probably head home myself,” he said.

“I have some stuff to do for Tenison so I will probably just come down for that, although I do not know how that will shake out either.

“In real terms basketball is a sport and not overly important compared to all the other situations that are going on.”

Hill said with the speed the virus had escalated, his players had not met as a group since last week.

However, he said everyone was trying to stay positive given the situation.

“The attitudes of everyone has been good which you would expect,” Hill said.

“They understand what is going on.

“We are frustrated like everyone and just want to play basketball.

“We are hopeful it might get off the ground, but we also have to be aware there may not be a season.”

As for a revised start-up date, Hill said there were so many variables it was too hard to predict what might happen.

“I think once they (NBL1) decide there will be a competition, they will give teams some time to prepare,” he said.

“There is not anything to stop individuals working on their own skills to maintain good levels of fitness and conditioning.

“It is not ideal, no question about that.

“I guess the issue will be if anyone comes from overseas will they have to go through another two weeks of quarantine?

“There are so many unknowns.”

In the end Hill said one important thing was to preserve the future of the club once the dust settles.

“The important thing for our club is long-term survival,” he said.

“That is the overriding factor with any decisions made.

“We need to make sure going forward there is still the Pioneers, but everyone is feeling it.

“I went in for a coffee yesterday at what is normally a vibrant little coffee shop and there was no one there.

“Everyone is hurting.

“We are no different.”

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