Decision looms as NBL weighs up options

Murray Wenzel
NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger admits they erred by not holding a three-match finals series

NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger has indicated there are two viable outcomes as the league consults its lawyers to determine which club, if either, is awarded this year's title.

The season was halted in extraordinary fashion on Tuesday when the NBL cancelled the five-game finals series with Perth leading Sydney 2-1.

Teams were due to play in Perth on Friday but, after playing the last two games in empty stadiums, the Kings informed the league they were no longer comfortable participating because of the threat posed by the coronavirus.

Caught out by the Kings' shifting stance, the NBL gave themselves a 48-hour window to determine the outcome of the series, Loeliger saying a no-result or Perth victory were both on the table.

It left the two clubs to duke it out on Tuesday - the Wildcats not missing as they stated their case for the title after Kings coach Will Weaver said it mattered little given the developing health crisis.

There is no clause in the NBL rules to stipulate who wins in this scenario, with Loeliger admitting they erred last Thursday when deciding to push on with a five-game series instead of shortening it to three.

"There are arguments both ways why there shouldn't be a winner of the series or potentially why the Perth Wildcats should be the winner of the series," Loeliger told NBL Overtime.

"That's some of the ambiguity we need to work through ... but ultimately there is a fair amount of discretion for the league to make a decision."

Loeliger said the Kings' decision was "perfectly valid and reasonable" but Perth, who are just one win from a 10th NBL title, can't see why they shouldn't be crowned champions.

"If you're 150 laps into Bathurst and it's called off who wins that? Gleeson said.

"If it's 2-1 in the tennis match whoever leads is always given (the win).

"We were ready to play game four and ready for game five in Sydney if needed."

The teams last Thursday agreed to continue the series in empty stadiums, with the Kings trailing 1-0 ahead of a trip to Perth.

Both teams then won games on the road, Loeliger saying options to accelerate the series and even play it in the same city were also rejected as government advice indicated it remained safe to travel domestically.

Wildcats captain Damian Martin believes his team should be awarded the title.

"At the end of the day Sydney made their decision, and they're the ones that decided they're not going to play," Martin said.

"So I think that's enough to say, 'Ok, the other team wins'.

"Let's give someone a Championship, even if there is an asterisk next to it.

"I kind of feel for Bryce (Cotton) because I think he's going to go down as an all-time great and he deserves to have a grand final MVP next to his name, which he was definitely going to win."