The ASEAN Basketball League is about to make another historic stride forward
Southeast Asia’s first and only professional regional league is about to enter its eighth year, and the upcoming 2017-2018 season is a record-breaking one, as nine teams will slug it out for basketball supremacy in the region.
Five teams are set to return for this season. Hong Kong Eastern will look to defend their crown against familiar foes Singapore Slingers, Westports Malaysia Dragons, Saigon Heat, and Filipino club Alab Pilipinas.
But Hong Kong’s title defense will surely be harder this year, as four new teams — CLS Knights Indonesia; Mono Vampire BC of Thailand; Formosa Dreamers of Taiwan; and Nanhai Long Lions of China — will all stand in their way.
The inclusion of CLS Knights, Indonesia’s oldest and most storied club team, for this year’s salvo is surprising, as they opted to bolt from the Indonesian League — where they are one of the most formidable teams — to play in the ABL.
Mono Vampire BC, meanwhile, marks the return of Thailand into the regional cagefest. The club team is coming off a commendable showing in the recently-concluded 2017 FIBA Asia Champions Cup, where they finished sixth.
The Formosa Dreamers will replace last year’s bottom-ranked team Kaohsiung Truth as Taiwan’s representative this season. The newly-formed squad will be hosting their games in Changhua City.
And coming from China are the Nanhai Long Lions, who look to use the team as a vessel to give more opportunities for local players in the basketball-crazed nation.
These notable expansions will further the reach of the ABL, giving a chance for fans of the sport all over the region to experience highly competitive and entertaining basketball.
For this year, the teams will be divided into three groups and will play a total of 20 games — 10 at home and 10 away — over the course of the season. The top two teams in the overall standings will head straight into the semis.
The third to sixth placers, on the other hand, will first have to compete in the quarterfinals. The playoffs’ first two rounds will be a best-of-three contest, and will ultimately become a best-of-five series in the title match.
The 2017-2018 season of the ABL will raise its curtains on November 17 in China, as Nanhai will host Singapore.