Basketball fans who have been hungry for some ball action will have to wait until after winter for the return of the National Basketball League (NBL).
This was revealed by the Lesotho Basketball Association (LBA) Public Relations Officer Hopolang Hoala this week in an interview with Newsday Sports, where he indicated that preparatory action will precede the league resumption.
“Our main plan at the moment is to first build competition and create fitness with tournaments,” said Hoala.
Hoala stated that the association is preparing for two tournaments to play including the annual winter tournament with dates yet to be confirmed.
He said the delay to resume the country’s elite basketball league has been due to stakeholder consultations on their readiness and level of fitness.
“We have just been assessing the situation and engaging with stakeholders which are clubs in terms of their fitness. At least if we play tournaments, it will get better because most teams have not played in a long time, over two years for others and for some it has been months,” Hoala said.
The national league last played with the conclusion of play-off finals in January this year. The finals were halted last year December to accommodate the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games that were held in Maseru.
The play-offs were eventually won by the now three times Champions, Lerotholi Polytechnic with a 3-2 series win over Tornado 98ers.
Before sports were suspended in the country due to the Covid-19 outbreak in March 2020, the LBA was failing to resume games for the second round of the 2019/20 NBL due to financial challenges. When the sports ban was finally lifted in 2021, the league opted to go straight into the play-offs with log standings from the first round results.
Hoala said the major challenge has been that of the halt that was brought by the Covid-19 pandemic which he said will take a while to recover from.
“If we remember well, Covid messed up our calendar so bad that even concluding the league was a challenge, however, we managed to go straight to the playoffs.
“Then after, it was preparations for AUSC region 5. This year we are to start off with tournaments but I can confirm that soon after the winter tournament, the league will start,” he said.
He concluded by adding that, the league is also seeking to have more teams register for the upcoming season.