A new season of ASEAN Basketball League action is coming upon us! With a record-high of nine teams participating in this season, there’s plenty to be excited about. If you need more convincing to be completely hyped up about #ABL8, here’s a list of things to look forward to this season!
1. Some Things Just Never Get Old
With all the new teams and players flooding into the ABL this season, it’s easy to forget how exciting the returning faces and places from the previous seasons can be as well.
There’s definitely going to be more competition for the MVP awards this year, but we should all look forward to seeing Marcus Elliott (World Import MVP, Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team), Tyler Lamb (Heritage Import MVP, Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team), and Bobby Ray Parks Jr. (Local MVP, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas) defend their status as the best of the best. With already one MVP-caliber season notched on their belts, it’s going to be fun to see what kind of encore they will provide.
As a matter of fact, all of the award winners from the previous season are back this year. Justin Howard (Defensive Player of the Year) is back to be a bother in the paint, albeit with a different team. Aside from their two MVPs, Hong Kong Eastern will still have their Coach of the Year, Edu Torres, rallying his troops from the sidelines.
Key local players are also returning to strengthen the core of their respective teams.
Lee Ki (Hong Kong Eastern) was an integral part of the championship run with his long range shooting and perimeter defence.
Delvin Goh (Singapore Slingers) has been playing for the Slingers for so long, you sometimes forget that he’s still only 22 years old. He’s expected to return with some more responsibility to shoulder this season.
Not only will this be the third season for Moses Morgan in the ABL, it will also be his third season with the Saigon Heat as their Heritage Import.
The Dragons will be returning prized forward Kuek Tian Yuan whose combination of size, skill, experience, and trust from Coach Thomas should make him a one of the best local players this season.
There’s obviously a slew of other talented returning players spread out among the returning five teams and it’s that continuity that you can look forward to rooting for in another season.
2. Change of Scenery
Some players are back for another go round in the ABL as well, but will have another place to call home and will be donning new jerseys.
The aforementioned Justin Howard will now be playing for the Nanhai Kung Fu Basketball Club this season after playing 3 seasons with the Singapore Slingers. Howard left as the franchise’s leading scorer and rebounder and he’ll be looking to produce the same gaudy numbers this season.
Another player moving from a long stint is Lenny Daniel who played 2 seasons with the Saigon Heat. He now relocates to the Formosa Dreamers in the next chapter of his ABL career. Daniel poured in 979 points in his first two ABL seasons and will now look to hit an impressive plateau with his new team.
Freddie Goldstein has produced numbers for whichever team he has played for in his first two ABL seasons, and he will now be filling up the box score for newcomers CLS Knights Indonesia. Throughout his career with Hitech Bangkok City and Westports Malaysia Dragons, Goldstein averaged 16.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.5 assists.
Though he had a shorter stint with his previous team that the three players mentioned above, Josh Urbiztondo will also be a player who will be facing a former team as opposition this season. He helped give the Singapore Slingers a push into the ABL Finals last season as a late addition. This year, he’ll be on a roster from opening day, however it will be for Tanduay Alab Pilipinas instead.
These players will be more than happy to get a chance to return to a venue that they once called “home court” and meet their ex-team mates with smiles on their faces, but don’t expect that to water down their intensity when they take the court.
3. Welcome Back. We’ve Missed you.
Other than returning players and teams from the previous season, their are also plenty of returnees that have been away from the ABL for quite a while.
The Mono Vampire Basketball Club last played in the ABL back in 2015-2016. They now return to participate in the league once again. Not only that, they are also bringing back some local delights like famed sniper Ratdech Kruatiwa who has the 4th most triples made in ABL history.
In addition, Mono Vampire BC will be bringing back two ABL MVPs into their lineup. Reggie Johnson (World Import MVP 2015-2016) and Jason Brickman (Finals MVP 2015-2016) last played for the 2015-2016 Champions, Westports Malaysia Dragons, but will be filling up the Import Player slots for the Thailand team this season.
The Westports Malaysia Dragons will be returning a former player of their own by welcoming back Patrick Cabahug, who served as their Heritage Import for 3 seasons. After two seasons with Hitech Bangkok City and a break away from the ABL last year, Cabahug is back to pour in the points for his old club.
That’s not even the last friendly face the Westports Malaysia Dragons will see this season. Brian Williams played for the Dragons back in 2012 and he’s now back in the ABL with CLS Knights Indonesia. Partnering up with Williams is Duke Crews, who played with the San Miguel Beermen in 2012.
The two World Imports of CLS Knights Indonesia have quite a history with Mario Wuysang, the legendary local Indonesian player that will be leading the Surabaya based team. Wuysang (then with the Indonesia Warriors) beat Crews in the 2012 ABL Finals, but lost to Williams (who played for the Beermen in 2013) in the following season’s Finals series. The return of the 2010-2011 Local MVP is going to be a storyline to focus on for the entire season.
Chris Sumalinog was a Heritage Import for the Saigon Heat back in 2013. He is set to return this season with more experience to join a stacked Tanduay Alab Pilipinas roster.
Some local players like John Ng (Westports Malaysia Dragons) and Russel Low (Singapore Slingers) are expected to play important roles after being away for a season or two. Ng hasn’t played in the ABL since 2014, but has convinced the Dragons that he still has plenty left in his tank for another season. Low has been away due to commitment to his studies, but has shown in international play with the National Team that he can be a force in the paint for the Slingers.
After watching them play in the ABL for the first time, there are many fans who have been waiting to see these players return to action in this league. Now that they’re back, make sure you don’t miss out on seeing them play!
4. Bring in the New Wave
How can you not be excited about the fresh additions to the league, whether its teams or coaches or players or venues?
The CLS Knights Indonesia, Formosa Dreamers, and Nanhai Kung Fu Basketball Club all add more competition and a variety of styles to the league. By reaching out to new countries, the league will be injecting even more culture into the already diverse setting that makes the league so unique.
Among the 9 teams, the league will have Head Coaches from an exciting 7 different countries:
- Edu Torres (Hong Kong Eastern, Spanish)
- Neo Beng Siang (Singapore Slingers, Singaporean)
- Jimmy Alapag (Tanduay Alab Pilipinas, Filipino)
- Kyle Julius (Saigon Heat, Canadian)
- Chris Thomas (Westports Malaysia Dragons, American)
- Hsu Hao Cheng (Formosa Dreamers, Taiwanese)
- Douglas Marty (Mono Vampire Basketball Club, American)
- Charles Dube-Brais (Nanhai Kung Fu Basketball Club, French)
- Koko Heru Setyo Nugroho (CLS Knights Indonesia, Indonesian)
There will be plenty of National Team level players who will be adding firepower to their ABL clubs as well.
Saigon Heat’s import, Akeem Scott, played very well on the Jamaican National Team for a number of tournaments. He’s been trusted by Kyle Julius to be the man leading the charge for a new look Saigon Heat squad.
The defending champions added another Hong Kong National Team player by snapping up Adam Xu. The 24-year-old should add decent perimeter firepower to the team. Eastern also builds up major bulk to their paint presence by adding Philippines National Team member, Christian Standhardinger. The Filipino-German recently played in both the FIBA Asia Cup and the SEA Games 2017.
Tanduay Alab Pilipinas also adds Dondon Hontiveros, who played for the Philippines National Team as recently as 2015. Though he is already 40 years old, he can still add shooting and defence for Alab.
Aside from Mario Wuysang, CLS Knights will also be boasting Indonesia National Team players Sandy Kurniawan and Firman Dwi Nugroho. Sandy will be based primarily on the perimeter shooting the lights out while Firman is expected to bang it up down low in the paint.
Other teams like Saigon Heat, Westports Malaysia Dragons, and Singapore Slingers already have a bevy of national team players on their squad. They don’t look to stop there as they add more top talents of the country to the list. The Heat successfully recruited Le Ngoc Tu, who was a steady offensive force on the Vietnamese National Team in both the 2017 SEA Games and 2017 SEABA Championship. The Dragons will be bringing in rookie, Heng Yee Tong, who played for the Malaysia National Team in the SEABA Championship 2017 and dazzled with his slick handles and fearless shooting. Singapore Slingers’ newbie, Jun Yuan Lim, also played for Singapore in the SEABA Championship 2017 as well as the SEA Games 2017 and is expected to be a key part to the Slinger’s line up.
The level of individual talent has ever been growing and expanding in the ASEAN Basketball League and it just keeps getting better and better.
There are so many storylines to look forward to watch unravel this season so make sure you don’t miss a beat!
The ABL season tips off on November 17, 2017 with the Nanhai Kung Fu Basketball Club hosting the Singapore Slingers for the very first game of the season. Don’t miss it!