ZHUHAI - The ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) is adding a historic 10th team into the league’s playing field and will still have a Chinese team in the Zhuhai Wolf Warriors.
“We saw an opportunity after the ABL started accepting East Asian teams like Hong Kong [Eastern Basketball Team] and [Formosa Dreamers] of Taiwan,” David Chu, General Manager of the Zhuhai Wolf Warriors said. “I have about 20 years of experience in the Asian basketball scene so when my partner asked if I could put a together a team if he got the investment, I said yes.”
The team will be based in the city of Zhuhai, which is on the southern coast of Guangdong, China. Zhuhai is a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of China, giving it easier access to the global market. Because of its prime location as a key port city and its surrounding environment, Zhuhai has built a reputation of being a garden city and attracts millions of tourists both internationally and domestically each year.
“Our home court will be at Jinan University in Zhuhai,” Chu says. “it’s a good sized 2500-person capacity stadium. Once our fan base picks up, we will eventually move to a bigger stadium.”
Zhuhai is directly connected to both Macau and Hong Kong via the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge (HKZMB) which is set to open later this year. With the Macau Black Bears and Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team just near by, the decision to use Zhuhai as the base for the Chinese team was more than reasonable.
“Zhuhai is the closest city to Macau so it was the most convenient choice when it came to logistics for teams to fly in,” says Chu. “We are also Zhuhai’s first professional team in any sport so we hope we will have the support of the people in our first year.”
The Wolf Warriors will draw from China’s immense talent pool of basketball players to form their team. According to the NIKE FIBA World Rankings, China ranks 29th in the World and 3rd in Asia. With a population of nearly 1.4 billion people, Zhuhai will be recruiting the best they can to form a competitive team, even though they know it might be a tall task.
“I think the goal for most expansion teams is not to finish last,” Chu says. “I think we have a slight advantage since I have been following the ABL closely. I have seen the level of players from the top teams and I just need to go get players that are equal to or better than those guys.”
“Making the playoffs is a realistic goal for us in our first year.”
The Wolf Warriors will be the ASEAN Basketball League’s 10th team this season, the most that the league has ever had in its 9 years of existence. This puts the league among great company of other successful sports leagues around the world. In their 9th season, leagues like the National Basketball Association (9 teams), National Football League (10 teams), Philippines Basketball Association (8 teams), and the Korean Basketball League (10 teams) had similar humble beginnings towards becoming the leagues that they are today.
The ASEAN Basketball League is more than proud of the competitive nature and commitment to excellence of the returning 9 teams and look forward to seeing the Zhuhai Wolf Warriors carry themselves likewise.
“We are very honored to be the 10th team in the ABL,” Chu says. “I know some of the owners before I joined and this should be a fun year. I think with more teams it will help with the ABL brand across the region.”
“The league is definitely going in the right direction with this expansion.”