The Hawks are free to travel to Adelaide for their NBL opener on Sunday, after their COVID scare over the weekend returned a false positive result.
Illawarra's last-minute season preparations were decimated when there was a reported COVID case in the side's camp, leading to Saturday's final pre-season clash with the Kings at the WEC being called off.
The Hawks spent most of Sunday awaiting their final follow-up test results. All players are double vaccinated, and all returned negative test results, while Saturday's suspected COVID case returned a false positive result.
Following consultation with the NBL and NSW Health, Illawarra was given clearance to travel to Adelaide for their season opener against the 36ers this Sunday. After all players returned negative results, the team will be free to train together this week.
"It's obviously very disappointing we didn't get a chance to play in front of our home fans on Saturday," Hawks co-owner and president Dorry Kordahi said.
"It was a very costly exercise but following NSW Health orders and state government protocols was something we had to adhere to. We will always put the safety of all our players and coaches, first."
While their last-minute season preparations have been decimated by COVID, Hawks coach Brian Goorjian insists his players were remaining upbeat.
The side was restricted to two NBL Blitz games - resulting in wins over the Phoenix and Melbourne United in Victoria - after Thursday's battle with New Zealand was also canned due to a COVID scare within the Breakers camp.
"We've got a lot of new players and a new style of play, and we've practised what we need to do. And now we need to play again," Goorjian said.
"We need to assess and make adjustments, and what's transpired is we've not been able to play. It's not what you'd like leading into the season, these two (pre-season) games were important to us."
It's the second season in-a-row that the Hawks have begun their campaign with uncertainty due to COVID.
After being happy to "roll with the punches" last season, Goorjian hopes to have more clarity around COVID issues in 2021/22.
"The difference is now that it feels like society knows you get double vaccinated and you move forward with living. And it just seems to me like we're playing tag and dancing around this thing everywhere you go. It just seems like there's going to be cases, and that's the world we're living in now," he said.
"It's just a personal opinion, but you don't want to stop things if there's one case. I think you should put the guy in his room and let the rest of the team move forward - that's what they're doing in the NBA. None of our players through this whole experience have tested positive. They're living their lives, but trying to take caution and do the right thing.
"So my feelings are different from last season about rolling with the punches. It's more that if this is going to pop up, let's play our games."
None of our players through this whole experience have tested positive. They're living their lives, but trying to take caution and do the right thing.- Brian Goorjian
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