KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) celebrated a significant milestone with its 5th anniversary as the premier regional professional basketball league in the ASEAN region.
The ground breaking league which acted as a catalyst for more regional sports leagues in the region sees pioneer teams such as the Westports Malaysia Dragons, the Jobstreet.com Singapore Slingers, the Indonesia Warriors, and seasoned campaigner Saigon Heat now being joined by new teams HiTech Bangkok City and the Laskar Dreya South Sumatra squad from Indonesia.
In the five years since the league’s inception, the ABL has accomplished several feats in the region. This included a professional league that ran for an average of six months a year, long term playing contracts for many budding players, regional TV broadcasts, the exciting increase in local talent development from players to coaches, and an even playing field which encouraged supposed lesser basketball nations such as Vietnam and Brunei to beat higher ranked teams from other nations.
The ABL has raised the profile of basketball in the region while also breaking new ground in professional management of club level sports. A good example of the impact of the ABL is the bronze winning performance of the Singapore National Team at the 27th South East Asian Games in Myanmar. The team made history by winning the first medal in basketball at the SEA Games in over 34 years, with the bulk of the team made up of players and the head coach from the Singapore Slingers.
As the ABL grows from strength to strength, it also continues its partnership with AirAsia, the largest low cost carrier in the world, which maintains its partnership with the league to create a synergy of regional ASEAN development by supporting local athletes and sporting platforms.
AirAsia’s continued support has seen it extend its sponsorship with the ABL that will last until 2023. This partnership will open up huge possibilities as the ABL looks towards almost a decade of growth in the region.
The ABL has also signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Chinese sportswear giant Li Ning, which will include equipment, apparel, and retail partnerships to promote the ABL brand in the region.
The teams in the 2014 AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League include:
HiTech Bangkok City. One of two new teams in the ABL fold are Thailand’s HiTech Bangkok City. A well known basketball club in Thailand having won numerous championships in the Thailand Basketball Legaue (TBL), they are looking to continue their winning tradition against top tier teams from different countries in the region. HiTech Bangkok City will be playing their home games in Bangkok and Chonburi.
Indonesia Warriors. Based out of Jakarta, Indonesia, the club was formerly known as Satria Muda BritAma when they joined the league in the inaugural season. The Indonesia Warriors are yearly contenders having reached the ABL Finals three (3) times and won their maiden championship in 2012.
JobStreet.com Singapore Slingers. Singapore’s first and only Professional Basketball Team, the JobStreet.com Singapore Slingers was one of the founding teams of the ABL. Prior to joining the ABL, they competed in the National Basketball League in Australia. The Slingers are set to play their home games at the newly built SportsHub OCBC Arena in Singapore.
Laskar Dreya South Sumatra. A historic achievement for the league as another team from Indonesia joins the fray. Laskar Dreya South Sumatra is a synergy of two teams – Hangtuah Sumsel IM from the Indonesian National Basketball League (NBL) and Division 1 side Dreya Basket Indonesia. Laskar Dreya fans can support their squad when they host their games in Sumatra and Jakarta.
Westports Malaysia Dragons. The KL Dragons will continue to be known as Westports Malaysia Dragons with Westports Malaysia returning as the title sponsor of the team. Having made it to the Semi Finals in the last four (4) ABL seasons, the team is eager to bring the ABL trophy to the Dragons’ Den for the first time. Based out of Kuala Lumpur, their home games are played at MABA Stadium.
Saigon Heat. Vietnam is represented by the Saigon Heat who are based in Ho Chi Minh City. Formed by the Saigon Sports Academy, they joined the ABL in 2012. The club’s home games are played out of the electrifying Tan Binh Stadium.