The ASEAN Basketball League, often abbreviated to the ABL, is a men’s professional basketball league in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Six clubs from six different countries of theAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) competed in the league’s 2009 inaugural season.The league was proposed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and launched on 1 October 2009.
Teams that participated in the inaugural season were the Brunei Barracudas, Kuala Lumpur Dragons, Philippine Patriots, SM BritAma, Thailand Tigers and former National Basketball League team, the Singapore Slingers. Mirroring the Euroleague in the west, the ABL has its own set of rules in terms of its roster makeup and salary caps. Teams are permitted two imports of non-ASEAN citizenship, three ASEAN imports, one player with one Southeast Asian parent, and seven local players. Teams are allowed to field a team of all local players if they wish to do so.
In July 2012, the league announced that Kuhan Foo, CEO since the ABL’s inception, was moving on to a position leading additional regional sports properties. In his place, the league named Anthony Macri as the next CEO, and he will lead the ABL into Season 4 in early 2013, but after one season he left the league to rejoin his family in the US.
On 22 September 2011, the Brunei Barracudas announced that they were bowing out of the third season of ABL after participating for 2 seasons.
On 20 October 2011, the Saigon Sports Academy officially announced the participation of Saigon Heat into the third season of ABL, making them the first ever international professional basketball team to representVietnam.
In 2012, San Miguel Beermen and Bangkok Cobras joined the league aside from Saigon Heat. Unfortunately, after one season, the Cobras left the league with the Beermen leaving after they won the title in 2013.
In 2014, Laskar Dreya South Sumatra (INA) joined ABL, but they left after the 2014 season.
On 17 July 2016, it was announced that Kaohsiung Truth, a team from Kaohsiung, Taiwan will participate in the 2016–17 season. This will be the first time that a team outside Southeast Asia will compete in the league.
On 30 July 2016, another team outside Southeast Asia, the Eastern Basketball Club confirmed its participation in the league, being the second non-Southeast Asian team to join the league.
On 6 August 2016, Alab Pilipinas from the Philippines is the newest team to join ABL. The team is owned by Dondon Monteverde and player-agent Charlie Dy.
The league, as of the 2015–16 season, is held via a quadruple home and away format where each team faces each other four times during regular season; as such the number of total games per regular season varies depending on the number of participating teams in that year. At the end of the regular season, the four teams with the best records qualifies for the playoffs. In the best-of-three semifinals, the top 2 seeds will have the home court advantage against the lower seeds and will host the first and third (if necessary) games. In the first season, the finals was a best-of-five series, with the higher seed hosting the first two and the fifth (if necessary) games. The Finals format was changed to a best of three series for the second and third seasons, where the higher-ranked team earns home-court advantage and hosts the first and third (if necessary) games. For the fourth season, it will be a quadruple home and away format where each team faces each other 4 times with the semis,a best-of-five, and the finals, a best-of-five series. In the fifth season, the playoff format was changed into a best-of-3 format both in the semi-finals and the finals. Starting in the sixth season, the league reverted its playoff format to a best-of-3 in the semi-finals and a best-of-5 series in the finals, similar to the first season’s playoff format.
The champions are supposed to represent the Southeast Asia Basketball Association (SEABA) in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup. However, since the tournament only limits one club per country, the 2010 championsPhilippine Patriots were disallowed from participating since the Smart Gilas Philippine team had already qualified. In 2011, the Chang Thailand Slammers were supposed to represent SEABA but the Thailand Basketball Federation was then suspended by FIBA; this caused the Westports KL Dragons to represent SEABA, as the runner-up Patriots’ slot was already taken by the Smart Gilas.
So far, No ABL team have played in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup since 2011, until Westports Malaysia Dragons won the ABL title in 2016, thus earning a slot in the tournament.