ABL unveils 8-team Season 3 cast; Manila teams faves
JAKARTA—The competition just got tougher for the Philippines as Season 3 of the AirAsia Asean Basketball League rolls off with a bigger eight-team field.
The Philippine Patriots, dethroned by the Chang Thailand Slammers last season, will go up against several new squads including another Philippine team in the San Miguel Beermen.
Aside from the Slammers, Thailand will field newcomer Bangkok Basketball Holdings while Vietnam will also join the action for the first time with the Saigon Sports Academy Basketball (SSA).
The league, which features top commercial cage teams in the region, will kick off on Jan. 14 next year.
“We’re getting stronger,” ABL chief executive officer Kuhan Foo said during the official launch Monday at Hotel Mulia here.
“We’ve stuck to the principle of pushing and promoting the league in the region as evidenced by the new teams. It shows that the league is growing.”
With the Philippines acknowledged as the region’s basketball powerhouse, the league has also drummed up interest in the rivalry between the Beermen and the Patriots.
“We hope to be as competitive as we’ve been in the 40-plus years we’ve been in basketball,” said San Miguel Corp. sports director Noli Eala. “The ABL is a terrific platform for our international brand and for our sports program.”
The Patriots, though, expect to put up a tougher fight this season with a revamped squad built around Far Eastern University standout Aldrech Ramos and Al Vergara, who’s finally suiting up for the country after seeing action with the Singapore Slingers.
Team owner Mikee Romero said his Patriots will still have coach Louie Alas.
“It’s a much better squad, we’re more formidable,” said Romero.
Bobby Parks will call the shots for the Beermen.
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