The Asean Basketball League (ABL) is grappling with reports of a fold-up, with its top official admitting he is unsure of where the regional basketball tournament is headed.
The Inquirer learned on Thursday that the ABL was contemplating on closing shop due to financial and logistical woes wreaked by the global health crisis. Asked to provide clarity on where the league was headed, chief operating officer Jericho Ilagan said: “Honestly I’m not sure. It would be irresponsible for me to try and paint a picture of what would happen.”
“I don’t know what [the ABL’s] plans are, to be honest,” Ilagan added in an overseas phone call to the Inquirer from Melbourne, Australia, where he is currently staying.
As this developed, San Miguel Alab Pilipinas is looking to shape its own strategy to deal with the disruptions and fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Right now, it’s really a wait-and-see situation because the ABL is the only regional league with travel protocols [so] it’s really going to be very difficult and challenging,” Charlie Dy, the team’s owner, told the Inquirer on Thursday.
“I [still] need to talk to San Miguel Corp. about it, too,” said Dy, whose team won the title during the 2017-18 season. “But of course, I’m still hoping that the situation becomes better.”
The signs aren’t optimistic.
A source said two Taiwanese ball clubs are already solidifying plans to become founding members of a new local league as they await ABL’s fate even as a series of decisions by the league office painted a gloomy scenario.
A number of ABL offices have been already shuttered following the wave of community lockdowns. The Philippine office staff, according to Ilagan, received salaries only until the end of March.
“We had no option but to offer severance packages for employees,” he said.
“We actually told [top ABL brass] that we want to keep producing social media content to keep the platforms from being stagnant,” Ilagan said. “But we were told not to do so anymore.”“We also [suggested] to keep an office even with a [skeleton] workforce so that there’s a bit of a presence. But we were also told not to do so,” he added.
Even Ilagan’s contract, which lapsed on May 30, remains up in the air.
“What the ABL would do, I honestly do not know. We have not talked since,” Ilagan said of the league’s brass.
ABL’s 10th season has been suspended since March 13.
The league pits 10 teams from five Southeast Asian nations on a home-and-away format, but varying travel restrictions from participating countries vastly affected its chances of resumption.
Thailand’s Mono Vampire, the league’s top-seeded team at 12-4 before operations ground to a halt, decided to pull out from the competition on March 13.
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