The start of the 2022 Sal’s NBL season will be moved back three weeks and tip-off on April 28, Leagues General Manager Huw Beynon has announced.
With a previous start date of April 7 and Omicron still present in the wider community, it was decided to delay the start of the season to improve fan safety and accommodate for players returning to New Zealand.
Beynon says whilst the decision to delay the 2022 Sal’s NBL season wasn’t easy, it was done with the best interests of players, staff and fans in mind.
“Covid and the Omicron variant are still present in New Zealand, and we wanted to take a safety-first approach. We’ve been monitoring the situation closely and believe the schedule change will allow for the Omicron outbreak to reach its peak and settle down before we commence play on April 28,” said Beynon.
“With the Government planning to begin loosening restrictions over the coming months, it will also enable our players abroad to be in New Zealand prior to the season tipping off.”
Fans will have to wait a few extra weeks for Sal’s NBL action this year, but Beynon says the wait will be worth it.
“Our goal is to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for our fans. Moving back the start of the season will hopefully allow for us to have fans in stadiums watching the action from day one. The delay is frustrating but we’re absolutely confident the wait will be worth it for everyone involved,” said Beynon.
The 2022 regular season will run through to August 7. The first three weeks of the original schedule have been moved to the final three weeks, with some minor changes to accommodate for venue availability.
With the schedule change, the Mike Pero Nelson Giants and Night n’ Day Otago Nuggets will open the 2022 Sal’s NBL season on April 28. They’ll meet inside the Trafalgar Centre in Nelson with tip-off set for 7:30pm.
The Taylor Hawke’s Bay Hawks and the Wellington Saints – a rematch of the 2021 Sal’s NBL Grand Final – was one of the games affected and will now be played on July 21 in Napier. The two teams are also scheduled to meet in Wellington on July 14, meaning fans will be able to enjoy a top tier match-up on consecutive Thursday’s.
The battle of the north between the EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls and the Auckland Tuatara, which was originally scheduled to be the opening game of 2022, will now take place on May 28 and July 24. There was nothing to separate the two teams last season - each of them grabbing a win in enemy territory – shaping a highly anticipated meeting for not only local fans but fans across New Zealand.
All games on the 2022 Sal’s NBL calendar will be broadcast on Sky Sport NZ. The full schedule can be found HERE.