Monday November 26, 2012
ABL down to seven teams for next season
By KNG ZHENG GUAN
PETALING JAYA: The fourth season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) will tip off on Jan 11 with only seven teams this time and a slight change in format.
AirAsia Philippines Patriots, who were champions in 2010, will not be participating this time as they are turning their attention to the Philippines Basketball Association (PBA) conference and do not have the resources to compete on two fronts simultaneously.
This leaves just defending champions Indonesia Warriors, the San Miguel Beermen, Saigon Heat, Bangkok Cobras, Chang Thailand Slammers, Jobstreet.com Singapore Slingers and the Westports Malaysia Dragons in the competition.
Nevertheless, the ABL top brass believe the league will not lose its quality and will be just as exciting as the past three years.
“The ABL has made tremendous strides over the last three seasons and watching the league grow and seeing the passion and love for the sport has been rewarding,” said ABL co-founder Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.
“I’m anxiously awaiting the start of the new season because it has the potential to be better than ever.”
ABL chief executive officer Anthony Macri added that the seven teams are committed to the growth of the game and will make the league exciting.
“We are happy to have them serve as the foundation for future success,” said Macri.
“We are more excited than ever about the product we are putting on the floor and the in-game experience that each team will provide the fans.”
The Warriors will face the team they defeated for the championship – the Beermen, in the season opener at their home ground.
The Dragons, fresh from finishing runners-up in the Malaysian National Basketball League (MNBL), will travel to face Saigon Heat in Ho Chi Minh City on Jan 12.
The teams will play each other four times during the regular season (two home and two away matches) with the four top entering the playoffs.
The semi-finals and final playoffs will also change to a best-of-five series, from the previous best-of-three.