Glasgow Rocks have been given a direct ticket into the quarter-finals of the BBL Trophy after lower league Reading Rockets pulled out.

The EBL outfit, who have long had aspirations of promotion into the British Basketball League, were handed the nightmare of a long-distance trip to the Emirates Arena in the first round draw earlier this week.

And it was confirmed last night that the Rockets have opted out of the competition due to “travel related Covid-19 concerns”.

A league spokesperson confirmed: “In line with the Covid-19 rule amendments, Glasgow Rocks are awarded a bye to the next stage of the competition to face the winner of the meeting between Cheshire Phoenix and Hemel Storm.”

The Emirates Arena is still scheduled to host the final of the Trophy on March 21.

On Wednesday, Basketball England cancelled all non-elite and youth competition with all leagues below the top division of the men’s and women’s NBL curtailed.

A statement said that, “following consultation with the elite teams and players active in the National Basketball League Division One (Men and Women), the season will continue under our current Government-sanctioned Return To Play Guidance with additional Covid-19 testing.” 

Division One men’s teams will get additional lateral flow testing to allow games to proceed, with the women’s top tier, with the women’s league – presently suspended until February – to follow suit.

Stewart Kellett, CEO of Basketball England, said: “We have taken note of the increased risk currently posed by the rate of Covid-19 and the concerns of our clubs and players at elite level and will expand the testing currently taking place to keep everyone involved as safe as possible.

“Our RTP is robust and Government approved but we believe this gives an extra layer of security.

“We have also taken the difficult decision to cancel all non-elite basketball – at senior and junior levels – for the 2020/21. We have held off from this sad moment for as long as possible in the hope that some part of the traditional September-May season could be salvaged.

“But it is clear that, with the rising R-rate, a new strain of the virus, the Government’s position on non-elite sport and half our season already wiped out, that this is not practical or sensible any longer. We all want our game back, but the stress and challenges on players, volunteers, parents, officials and everyone in the game to keep planning for a return has escalated to an intolerable level.”

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