For a record 10th time the Perth Wildcats have been crowned the National Basketball League champions of Australia – but with a difference.
They were awarded the crown before their Grand Final series of matches against the Sydney Kings was completed
With two Grand Final matches still to go and the Wildcats leading 2-1, the Kings asked to opt out. They cited the Coronavirus pandemic as the reason.
After long and widespread discussions, the NBL decided on Thursday to cancel the last two games in the five-game series and to award the title to Perth.
“We have taken extensive advice on this matter from the NBL board of directors, members of our advisory board, FIBA and our external legal advisers K&L Gates. I must thank all of them for the benefit of their insight and perspective,” NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said.
“Only one outcome”
“Having considered all of that advice, we have concluded that there is only one outcome that is most appropriate in the circumstances; the league having made the decision to cancel games four and five of the finals series.
“We feel that the rules set out in the NBL operations manual are clear in this regard.
“In this instance, games four and five were cancelled by the league due to unforeseen circumstances pursuant to rule 34 of the NBL operations manual.
“Consequently, the champions of the Hungry Jack’s 2019/20 NBL season are the Perth Wildcats.
“We can now also announce the winner of the Larry Sengstock Medal for our Grand Final MVP. It is determined in accordance with our expert judging panel’s votes for games one to three of the finals series. It has been awarded to Bryce Cotton.
“I’d like to offer my congratulations to the Perth Wildcats, to our runners-up Sydney Kings and to our Finals MVP Bryce Cotton.”
Kings star Andrew Bogut critical of NBL
Kings star Andrew Bogut, an NBA championship winner with the Golden State Warriors in 2015, was not happy with the NBL.
“In wrapping up the season; a quick note,” the 35-year-old 7-foot centre wrote on Twitter. “I’d like to say I could not be any prouder of the Sydney Kings and our playing group,”
“After almost three hours of back and forth [and plenty of tears] we came to what ultimately was the hardest decision any athlete or team could make.
“I want to go on record to say I am beyond embarrassed and disappointed in regards to how this was handled by our league from the week leading up to the Grand Final series. More to come at a later date re: that.
“This has nothing to do with the result announced today and I wish to congratulate the Perth Wildcats on being crowned champion
2020 NBL Champions! 🏆
Grand Final MVP BRYCE COTTON! 🏅 pic.twitter.com/xyOMpABUVt
— Perth Wildcats (@PerthWildcats) March 19, 2020