The Cambodian Basketball League (CBL) is the top professional basketball in the country. The league had its first season in 2013 and is based in Phnom Penh. Like the Cambodian national basketball team, the Cambodian basketball Federation also oversees the affairs of the CBL.
Top basketball players and teams compete at the Beeline Arena for the CBL title every year. The league currently comprises seven times. However, when it was founded in 2013, the top 10 teams from the country were a part of the league.
This article offers a brief insight into the history of the Cambodian Basketball League and its evolution over the years.
Cambodian Basketball League History
Basketball was one of the most thriving sports in Cambodia in the early 1900s. The political unrest and the mass Cambodian genocide in the 1970s, a period that was nothing short of a massive tragedy, took a huge toll on the country’s socioeconomic conditions. Sports that were thriving at one point were now a thing of the past.
However, post the tragic era, the Cambodian Basketball Federation picked up the pieces slowly and tried to revive basketball in the country. In the 90s, the national basketball team began participating in international competitions, starting with the Southeast Asian Games. The country played in various international exhibition tournaments in the early 2010s.
During the past decade, there was a significant increase in the public interest and popularity of basketball. The Cambodian Football Federation realised the potential for the growth of basketball in the country and took initiatives to promote basketball in all 25 provinces of the country and focus on each of the five regions.
In a bid to promote basketball and increase its popularity, the association introduced various basketball competitions for players at the entry levels. These included games at primary and secondary schools level, universities, and biennial national competitions.
This led to a massive increase in the sport’s popularity as one could easily find games being played in basketball courts, colleges, and schools.
Cambodian National League Formation
The formation of the Cambodian National League was a part of this initiative, as the CBF wanted to provide a formal platform to the various teams and clubs formed in the country around that time.
The league was established through the joint effort of the Cambodian Basketball Federation and CamBasket, which was a group of representatives belonging to the clubs that became a part of the league. It was decided that an organising committee would administer the league’s day-to-day affairs, and a Cambodian Basketball Federation member would take on the commissioner’s role.
The league’s first season was held in 2013 and was a huge success. A total of 12 teams took part in the season. All teams were required to have at least three players in their ranks.
Within a year, it had become evident that the CBL would become a medium via which new local talent could be identified. It was hoped that Cambodians had an appetite for basically, and eventually, the league would contribute to improving basketball’s profile and standard in the country.
The first season of the league began in July and ended in December. A total of 80 games were scheduled over a period of seven months. Players of ten nationalities were a part of the season, including Cambodia, France, Australia, the UK, the USA, the Philippines, Russia, and China.
The season was divided into two phases. The 12 teams played against each other in a round-robin competition. The top eight teams progressed to playoffs in December.
Cambodian Basketball League Format
Currently, the Cambodian Basketball League is the most popular in the country and has gathered a huge fan base. The league holds matches at the National Olympic Committee Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Currently, the CBL comprises seven teams. These include Extra Joss Fighters, The Yuetai Mekongers, Dragons, MOEF, Master Tapsi, Asian B, and Beyond.
In the recent season of the CBL, the Yuetai Mekongers grabbed the CBL title by beating the Extra Joss Fighters. It was the fourth consecutive final for the Fighters. In the previous season, the Fighters had won against Beyond in the final of the CBL.
Even today, many foreign players are part of the teams playing in the CBL. The teams must have at least two Cambodian players on the court at all times; however, beyond that, teams are allowed to form a line-up as they deem fit.
Most teams in the CBL have Cambodian players in surplus, who are acquired from the national squad, youth, and adults.