Two new PH teams spice up ABL season 6
KUALA LUMPUR–The ASEAN Basketball League, the only professional league in the Southeast Asian region, is returning for a sixth season with three new teams, two coming from the Philippines.
Tougher competition is expected this year with the participation of the Pacquiao Powervit Pilipinas Aguilas and the Racal Motors Alibaba.com from the Philippines, the ABL’s biggest market.
Returning for another season are mainstays the Singapore Slingers, the Saigon Heat, the Westports Malaysia Dragons and the defending champion Hi-Tech Bangkok City.
“We are really excited this year but it’s not going to be easy for us with the new teams coming,” said Hi-Tech team captain Piyapong Piroon said during the press launch of the new ABL season at the Berjaya Hotel here.
“Everyone knows that the Filipinos is first in ASEAN, so it’s not going to be easy. But it’s going to be an exciting season.”
Behind Filipino coach Jing Ruiz, the Hi-Tech Bangkok City defeated the Westports Malaysia to win its second ABL championship last year.
Another team from Thailand is also joining the fray with The Mono Vampire Basketball club promising to add more fun to the league.
“Our goal is to be part of the ABL and make it a tournament that is fun to watch. Hopefully we can add more colors to it,” said Mono Vampire’s Bruce Lee, whose squad was just founded last year and honed in the local Thai leagues.
Qualifying for the playoffs every year in the ABL, the Westports Malaysia Dragons, meanwhile, are looking at better results this season after failing to snare the title.
“Last year we exceeded our expectations. This time, we wanna do better,” said Ruben Gnanalingam of Malaysia, whose coach Ariel Vanguardia also hails from the Philippines.
The ABL is set to return late in October with the same triple-round robin, home-and-away format in the elimination round.
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