ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) officials admitted being ‘disappointed’ in the absence of a team from the Philippines, but look ahead to its fifth season opening on July 16 with a lot of optimism.
ABL chief operating officer Ridi Djajakusuma said that despite having no Philippine team this year, the league expects a competitive season with two new ballclubs making their respective debuts.
HiTech Bangkok City and Laskar Dreya South Sumatra will be joined by last year’s runner-up Indonesia Warriors, Malaysia Dragons, Singapore Slingers, and Saigon Heat in this season’s competition.
But notably absent is a representative from the Philippines, a basketball power in Southeast Asia, after 2013 champion San Miguel Beermen decided not to participate this year.
Nevertheless, the league remains optimistic about how this season will turn out.
“Although the league is disappointed not to have a representative from the Philippines this year, we feel the competitiveness of the competition will be at its highest level ever,” said Djajakusuma.
“All the teams who are participating this season are committed and determined to help develop the league and local players in the region improve further,” he added.
The ABL bared it will still be allowing Filipinos to play in the league, confirming it has limited the maximum number of Asean imports from three to two in order to give opportunities to local players.
The league had its formal launch on Monday in Kuala Lumpur as it celebrated a milestone event by ushering its fifth season.
The ABL tips off with HiTech Bangkok City facing the Malaysia Dragons on July 16. The other opening games will see the Saigon Heat taking on Indonesia Warriors on July 19, and Singapore Slingers going against Laskar Dreya South Sumatra on July 20.
The start of the 2014 season was pushed back to July to accommodate the 2013 Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar while at the same time, not clash with the 2015 edition of the same multisport event in Singapore set to open in June.