Breakers boss Matt Walsh is hoping for a more straightforward 2021/22 season following a "tough" year which saw the New Zealand ANBL side based in Australia for the majority of the last campaign.
The Breakers had a difficult last season both on and off the court, finishing eighth on the ANBL ladder while being forced into multiple relocations due to Covid-19, meaning the team only played seven games in front of their home crowd during the brief transtasman bubble.
Walsh admitted it was a tough year, especially for the players and their families.
"Last year was no question very difficult on our guys, especially the guys' families and our staff," Walsh told Gold AM's Country Sport Breakfast. "I think a big part of it was the moving around and not having a home base where families could come and get them.
"We're hopeful it's not going to be five and a half months like last year but again it's a moving target. We're going to do our best to put them in the best accommodation and set up when we're over there and hopefully things continue to improve, vaccination rates go up and it's a much shorter stay and we can play our 14 home games and guys can get some sense of a normal season."
Walsh says he is more optimistic about the upcoming season, having completed several new signings and a now greater understanding of the Covid environment. He says the team is on their way to being fully vaccinated and hopes they won't be required to be based in Australia for as long as last season.
However, the recent resurgence of Covid-19 in New Zealand has caused more headaches for the team, while the start date for the season was already pushed back by a month to November 18 to give the league more flexibility.
With Level 4 lockdown impacting pre-season for Dan Shamir's men, especially for new signing and star import Petyon Siva, the team have been getting creative to stay fit and ready.
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"If you know Dan you can imagine he's not dealing with it well," Walsh joked about the Breakers coach. "We're supposed to start pre-season on August 16 and we did such a great job of getting everyone in the country, securing MIQ vouchers, we were able to get our full roster and then the day after Peyton Siva, our star import, got out of MIQ he [and the rest of the country] went right directly into Level 4 lockdown.
"Look, the good positive thing is the season's slated to start November 18. We've got plenty of time to prepare. Our performance staff has done an amazing job of creating some fun ways for our guys to stay active and competitive ways.
"We have a very professional team so there's not a real risk for our guys coming in after just sitting around and playing Fortnite for a month, but there will be an adjustment coming back to the court."
Aside from the Covid challenges, Walsh was excited about the team's new signings, including former NBA player Siva and French wunderkind Ousmane Diang, 18, who is highly regarded as a future NBA first round draft pick.
"It will be really exciting," Walsh said. "Plus we've got our next star Ousmane Dieng, we'll be announcing another import who's here already this week. Just to get the guys back. It's been a relatively quick turnaround, we finished only in June.
"Peyton's an absolutely great guy, a great player. I think the guys feel like they know him because as soon as we signed him over the winter, he reached out to every player, he's watching video, he's saying hey I think we should do this, this and this with this player.
"We have a great group this year and they're really excited to get in the gym."