For the second year in a row, the NBL1 Bendigo Braves women won't have a shot at the championship.
In 2020 there was no season at all, this year the South conference played a handful of rounds in between lockdowns, but on Wednesday afternoon the inevitable news came through.
The season is over.
No championship or awards will be handed out.
"While it's gutting and heartbreaking, the sobering thought behind it is that it wasn't anyone's choice," Bendigo Braves women's coach Mark Alabakov said.
"It's just the global landscape we're now in"
However, Alabakov said there were plenty of constructive elements for the team to take away from the season.
"If we go back and consider both quantitatively and qualitatively, the season was a massive success," he said.
"We nailed the recruitment side of things by bringing in figureheads who had the perfect culture for what I wanted for the team.
"We had players who set benchmarks for everybody such as Tess Madgen the Olympian and Abbey Wehrung who has just been announced as an Australian reserve for the FIBA Asia Cup.
"There are also younger players such as Cass McLean who is a former Australian junior representative.
"Every member of the team has been shown an example of a walking billboard of what the next level on the basketball journey looks like.
"Whether it comes in the next six months or further down the track, they know what the future looks like."
Braves women finished the season with a 12-3 record and second on the ladder behind Knox.
As pleasing as the performance might have been, Alabakov believed the real success from the lockdown-marred season was the camaraderie within the group.
"Looking back on this season in many years, the culture and solidarity within our group is what people will remember the most," he said.
Alabakov still has plenty to focus on despite the season being over, including touching base with the team on an individual level.
"First and foremost my plan is to complete this chapter with the current group," he said.
"I've already put out a message thanking the team for all the things we achieved this season and I will call everyone individually.
"But I've also been given the green light by the club to start re-signing players for 2022 so that we can come back and complete the unfinished business of winning the championship."
NBL1 and Basketball Victoria made the announcement on Wednesday that the South conference had been cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.
"We thank all of the NBL1 South clubs, Basketball Victoria and our partners for their cooperation and patience during the decision-making process," league general manager Dean Anglin said.
"Planning for the 2022 NBL1 South season is already underway, and we can't wait for the conference to return bigger and better next year."
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