COURT OUT: Mildura Heat stars Bronte Clark and Calvin Henry lament the fact they won’t get to play at the Toyota Hothouse in 2020 after both sides pulled out of Big V competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By MITCH RODD

MILDURA won’t see Big V Basketball action at the Toyota Hothouse in 2020.

Both the Division 1 Women’s and Division 2 Men’s sides have been pulled from any potential modified season that Basketball Victoria will play, following the COVID-19 restrictions.

A unanimous decision was made between the team captains and coaches, the Senior Heat committee and the Mildura Basketball Association (MBA) board to withdraw teams from competition, citing player safety and financial strain as major factors.

The Big V competition is continuing to try and create a shortened season following initial restrictions in March, however Senior Heat committee chair, Paul Lock, and secretary, Christine Delcastegne, admitted the “Melbourne-centric” fixture would create too many issues for Mildura sides to compete.

“As many of the games would be played in Melbourne, financially it’s not viable for us to have so many condensed road trips,” Lock said.

“Big V have done the right thing by looking at all avenues of being able to play, but the last outbreaks and the weekend’s restrictions have made it so much harder.”

“We’ve got to put the safety of the players first, and the travel in and out of hotspots in Melbourne, where we’d likely have to play, as well as other teams travelling up here, is too much of a risk,” Delcastegne added.

“A shortened season would have also interfered with our local summer season and it just wouldn’t be viable.

“We’re trying to look at in a positive light. We feel a season off might give the players a chance to rest and refresh a bit. The consensus of the majority of the players is that while it is unfortunate that the season hasn’t gone ahead the downtime has allowed them to spend some quality time with family.”

Lock said the 2021 Big V season is now already in the planning stage. 

“The corporate sponsors have all been really understanding and they’re all on board for next season, no one has pulled out,,” he said.

“We had completed a whole new corporate structure with an upstairs lounge ahead of the new season so that is ready to go, aand we’ve been able to re-seal courts and carry out some maintenance.”

Planned imports for the 2020 season, Alyesha Lovett and Chris Carter, were flown back to their native USA in March after the opening round of the season was postponed. While Lock said it is probably too early to make a decision on 2021 imports, he is confident of securing some strong talents to play for the Mildura Heat.

“With everything that is happening in the USA and Europe at the moment, I think Australia will be viewed as good place to come, and as a result we should be able to get some top-notch imports,” he said.