When the announcement was made last week that the remainder of the NBL1 South season had been cancelled, it came as no surprise to Bendigo Braves men's coach David Hogan.
It had been weeks since the South conference held a proper round with all teams in action and there was no end in sight to an end to restrictions.
"As a group we had pre-empted the decision and we weren't really surprised when we found out," Hogan said.
"It doesn't make it any easier, especially for our players who are trying to earn their next contract, those who are in their last year on court and the ones who are trying their best to prove themselves.
"It's a disappointing outcome for the team, club and the wider basketball community, but there are more important things happening in the world at the moment that need to be focused on."
One consolation for the Braves after the unfortunate cancellation was ending the weeks of waiting for the possibility that the season would resume.
"In a way there was a sense of relief that the season had been cancelled, especially for the players who are living away from their families and loved ones," Hogan.
"They were certainly disappointed as we wanted to see out the season, but it has been hard on them not seeing their partners and now they can reunite."
After falling short to the Nunawading Spectres in the 2019 grand final, missing the 2020 season due to the first stages of the pandemic, the Braves men wanted nothing more than to have a shot at this year's championship.
Before the announcement of the cancellation the Braves were eighth on the ladder with a 9-6 record, had won four of their last five games (WWLWW) and were primed for a shot at finals.
The 2022 team included several new and returning players such as Nelson Larkins, Javaan Mumtaz paired with veteran basketballers Ray Turner, Chris Hogan and Taylor Bell.
"If you were to take away a couple of our older players, the average age on the team drops to about 23, which is relatively young compared to a lot of teams in the league," Hogan said.
"Therefore it was very pleasing to know that we would've been in finals if the season did go ahead.
"For a predominantly young group to achieve a spot in finals, it certainly puts the team in good stead for years to come."
NBL1 general manager Dean Anglin expressed his disappointment in having to announce the season cancellation.
"Despite working tirelessly with our clubs to try and find a way to complete the season in a safe manner, the extension of restrictions in Victoria and travel restrictions imposed on our Tasmanian clubs, the Mount Gambier Pioneers and Albury-Wodonga Bandits has forced us to make the difficult decision to cancel the season," he said.
"With a combined 148 men's and women's games still to be played, there will be no champion and no individual awards for the 2021 NBL1 South season.
"We thank all of the NBL1 South clubs, Basketball Victoria and our partners for their cooperation and patience during the decision-making process.
"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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