What Is The ASEAN Basketball League?

The ASEAN Basketball League is a professional basketball league for men, comprising teams from Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. The idea for the league’s formation was presented in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to facilitate the advancement of basketball in the region. Shortly after, the league had its inaugural season in October 2009. 

Four teams from the ASEAN Basketball League are from Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, and Vietnam; two are from Taiwan, two are from Macau, and one is from Hong Kong.

This article offers insight into the history and current format of the ASEAN Basketball League.

ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) History

The idea for the formation of the ABL was conceived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In September 2009, officials representing six ASEAN countries congregated in Metro Manila, Philippines, to lay the foundation of a new basketball league. 

The inaugural season of the league began in the following month, in October 2009, with six teams from Southeast Asia. The teams in the first season included Singapore Slingers from Kailang, Singapore, Brunei Barracudas from Darussalam Brunei, Philippine Patriots from San Juan, Philippines, KL Dragons from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saltria Muda BritAma from Jakarta, Indonesia and Thailand Tigers from Thailand. 

ASEAN Basketball League Growth

The league’s expansion began in 2011, and many teams joined and left the ABL. The Brunei Barracuda opted out of the league before the third season, and the Saigon Sports Academy joined as their replacement. The Saigon Sports Academy was Vietnam’s first official team to join the league. Bangkok Cobras and San Miguel Beermen joined the ABL in the same year. However, the San Miguel Beermen left the league two years later after they won the league, while the Bangkok Cobras had already left a year earlier.

In 2014, another team, Laskar Dreya South Sumatra, joined, while in 2015, two teams, including the Pilipinas MX3 Kings and Mono Vampire joined. However, both the latter teams only remained with the league for a year and left in 2016. 

In 2016, the ASEAN Basketball League increased its outreach and inducted teams from East Asian countries, including the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. The same year, three more teams, Kaohsiung Truth, Eastern Basketball Clubs, and Kaohsiung Taiwan, were inducted into the ABL, while the Philippines re-joined via its representative Alab Pilipinas.

The next year saw the addition of four teams to the mix. These included the Nanhai Kung Fu, which is presently named the Macau Black Bears after the team moved to Macau, Formosa Dreamers, CLS Knights from Indonesia, and the Mono Vampire BC. The Zhuhai Wolf Warriors from Pearl River Delta joined the ABL in 2018, while the Taipei Fubon Braves were added a year later after the Kaohsiung Truth left only after a three-year stint in the ABL.

What was the ASEAN Basketball League Season format for the previous season?

In November 2019, the tenth season of the ASEAN Basketball League started, which continued till 13th March 2020. After this, there was a long hiatus due to the pandemic, and the tournament was halted until now when the eleventh season is just about to take off. 

During the regular season, each team played 26 games, 13 out of which were played at home while the rest were away. Teams were divided into two groups, with the Bears, Braves, Dreamers, Eastern, and Warriors in one group and the Heat, Slingers, Alab, Vampires, and Dragons in the other group. Each team played the other four teams in its group twice, at home and away. Each team also played the five teams from the other group, once at home and then away.

On 15th July 2020, it was announced that the league season of the ABL would be suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the announcement, the Mono Vampire, who had led the stats table, announced their withdrawal from the league, and the championship title was not awarded to any team. 

When is the next season of the ABL starting?

The 11th season of the ABL is due to take off on 2nd January 2023. The season will begin in Singapore and then move to three other host countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The format of the 2023 season has also been changed. Four rolling tournaments have been mapped out before the semi-finals and finals, which will have a best-of-3 format. Each team will play the two other teams twice during the tournaments, while the top four teams at the season end will proceed to the semi-finals.

The season will culminate with the final games from the 3rd to the 15th of March 2023. The finals and semi-finals will again take place at Kallang, Singapore. 

How many teams will participate in the upcoming ABL season?

It is expected that the ABL’s upcoming 11th season will feature eight teams. As per reports, it is speculated that the teams participating in the league include Louvre Surabaya, Wolf Warriors, Macau Black Bears, Sriwijaya Kings, Hong Kong Eastern Club, Saigon Heat, NS Matrix, and Singapore Slingers. Earlier teams, including the Mono Vampire and Alab Pilipinas, have been disbanded, while the Taipei Fubon Braves, KL Dragons, and Formosa Dreamers have withdrawn from the league.

Which country has won the most championships in the ABL?

The Philippines have won the most championships in the ABL with three wins. Thailand and Indonesia have each won twice, while Malaysia and Hong Kong both have won the ABL once. 

What is the ABL 3×3 International Champions Cup?

The ASEAN Basketball League introduced the 3×3 International Champions Cup as a forerunner to resume the regular league tournaments in January 2023 after the hiatus caused due to the pandemic.

3×3 basketball is a basketball variant with three players from each team on the court. The game is played in half-court, and one backboard is used only. 

The inaugural season of the 3×3 International Champions Cup was held in April 2022 in Indonesia and comprised competitions for men’s and women’s teams. From the men’s side, the Indonesia Patriots A won the title, while from the women’s side, the VN Red and Gold from Vietnam won the tournament. 


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