A RECORD number of 10 teams will be competing in the coming ninth season of the Asean Basketball League, a testament to how basketball has grown not just in Southeast Asia but also outside the region, according to the league’s top official.
ABL chief operating officer Jericho Ilagan said the sport continues to grow in the Southeast Asian and East Asian basketball as the league will have 10 teams, the highest since it started play on October 10, 2009.
The ninth season of the league will open on November 16 with a battle between expansion team Zhuhai Wolf Warriors and the Hong Kong Eastern at the Zhuhai Jinan University.
Ilagan cited the recent hosting of Thailand of two international tournaments in the Fiba Under-18 Asian Championship and the Fiba Asia Champions Cup, the attendance in basketball games during the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, and the reception of the saturated Filipino market to San Miguel Alab Pilipinas last year as proof that basketball is growing in the region.
“In nine years, we’ve gone through and more importantly accomplished a lot. Believe me when I say that the ABL is just getting started. With the help of everyone in the league, basketball will only grow more in the region,” said Ilagan.
Ilagan said the ABL expressed its commitment to help continue to grow the sport in the next years.
“Nine years from now, I hope to see everyone here and the together, we will marvel about more milestones and accomplishments as together, we rise to greatness,” said Ilagan.
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas is looking to defend the crown this year, but faces tough opposition from last year’s runners-up Mono Vampire Basketball Club, Hong Kong Eastern, Saigon Heat, Formosa Dreamers, CLS Knights, expansion team Zhuhai Wolf Warriors, and league pioneers Westports Malaysia Dragons and the Singapore Slingers.
Macau Black Bears, formerly the Chong Son Kung Fu, will also be seeing action this year after the team relocated from Nanhai.