WAGGA Blaze coach Peter O'Leary believes the Waratah League's revamped division one women's competition may have benefited from a delayed start as teams struggle to adjust to extended breaks between games.
The Blaze's 59-46 road win at Shoalhaven on Saturday night was just their third game in the first five weeks of the season, while the Tigers hadn't played since a season-opening loss to Queanbeyan on March 9.
The league has been divided into two four-team conferences to minimise the huge travel load on clubs, which is believed to be a reason behind the decision of Sydney clubs Bathurst and St George to withdraw.
After moving to a 2-1 record on the back of 15 points from import point guard Shakera Barnes and ten from former Tiger Hannah Ryan, the Easter break means the Blaze have to wait another fortnight before hosting Goulburn next Saturday night.
"It could be a situation where they may have held entries open for an extra time period to try and get a couple more teams to replace them, or possibly start the league later," O'Leary said.
"Camden Valley has come in but there's no other Sydney teams, which is a bit unusual. They obviously don't want to travel.
"Splitting into two pools makes it far more feasible, but unfortunately last season probably did some damage, and some teams decided they wouldn't play at all.
"We were nearly in that boat (withdrawing) ourselves, but two pools made it more feasible for us."
In contrast the men's league boasts 20 teams, allowing clubs to enjoy games week-to-week.
"They'll definitely have to look at it and find a way of revamping it. It's not the optimum way of doing it at the moment, but at least we're on court and playing," O'Leary said.
"You can't blame NSW Basketball, they're only doing what they can do but someone needs to look at it more deeply."
The Blaze set up the win with a 23-11 first quarter in a game where both teams failed to find any shooting rhythm.
In the men's competition, the Heat's playoff hopes are fast slipping away after plunging to a 1-5 record with a 100-69 loss to Shoalhaven.
The hosts led 47-29 at the main break and went on with the job in the second half to improve their position to 5-1.
Scott Hare top scored for the Heat with 17 points, but they were unable to contain Tigers leaders Bruce Ozolins (23 points) and Alexander Brown (18).
The Heat faces another tough assignment at home against third-placed Illawarra Hawks at Bolton Park Sports Stadium on Saturday, April 27.