Ipswich Basketball Association official and Ipswich Force men’s head coach Chris Riches. Picture: Franca Tigani
Ipswich Basketball Association official and Ipswich Force men’s head coach Chris Riches. Picture: Franca Tigani

Ipswich revival first priority when play allowed

THE disappointing cancellation of the keenly-awaited new NBL1 North competition has done little to dampen Chris Riches resolve to battle on.

While the latest decision was expected, the Ipswich Basketball Association official and Ipswich Force men's head coach said everything was being geared towards a grassroots revival as soon as possible.

"Our focus basically is shifting on to those local competitions,'' Riches said, waiting for further direction from the Australian and Queensland governments on when sport can resume.

"That will determine everything else.

"We really need a holding pattern until the local domestic competitions can go on.

"There will be pretty significant restrictions placed on the operation of those competitions with everyone's wellbeing paramount.

"But until that sort of happens, there's really no representative or any kind of basketball above that.''

The banned competition includes the newly-formed NBL1 North competition, planned to bolster the pathway between the former Queensland Basketball League and national league.

All three NBL1 conferences - in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia - have been cancelled after initially been postponed until May due to the coronavirus saga.

The decision came after the indefinite closure of indoor sports centres because of COVID-19.

Ipswich Force men's and women's teams were preparing to play in the NBL1 North competitions.

"We're like every other sport. We're just waiting to see what happens in regard to the virus spread and trying to minimise that as much as possible,'' Riches said.

The latest decision also came after Force had signed Australian Boomers and Brisbane Bullets guard Nathan Sobey for the inaugural NBL1 North series.

Riches said the star recruit's future plans would be reviewed along with all programs when basketball is allowed to continue.

"We're having a rethink . . . and we'll talk to everyone about 2021,'' Riches said.

"That's where your focus shifts. It never stops. It's always going.''

A positive was that loyal American import Kyle Harvey was not due to fly out until April 6. He's avoided the risk of being left in limbo or being indefinitely stranded in Queensland.

"Because we have such a heavily based local association, a lot of guys are around town,'' Riches said. "We haven't had a lot of guys coming in and out so that's been one of the benefits of actually having local guys in the program.''

Riches said Ipswich Basketball Association competitions would be restored once given the all-clear.

"The regular competitions, which is where all our Ipswich players are involved in, they are the ones that are really important as well because we haven't had any basketball for about three, three and a half weeks,'' Riches said.