With less than three weeks to go before our season opener, it’s time to list down who we think are the players to watch out from each team this upcoming season. Take note that these players don’t necessarily have to be the best players on their team. They can be someone who has the potential to be an X-Factor and solid contributor to their club or can simply be interesting and fun to watch.
Jet Chang, Formosa Dreamers
Taiwanese superstar Chang Tsung-Hsien, also known as Jet Chang, has already shown his prowess in several professional leagues in Asia. Chang’s impact was seen from his last appearance with the Fubon Braves gracing the FIBA Asia Champions Cup with 5.3 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game. The 6’4″ shooting guard has also been a mainstay in the Taiwanese National Team making his Asian Championship debut in 2009. Since then, Chang has been one of the nation’s most respected and most reliable cagers.
Chang’s addition to the Formosa Dreamers is a good tiding the team can build up to create a solid local list along with their three imports. The question is, will Jet Chang’s added veteran presence solidify the Dreamers’ run to the top of the ABL standings once more?
Trey Kell, Hong Kong Eastern
Trey Kell brings trouble against opponents. The 6’4” import is an underrated finisher at the rim and a threat on both sides of the floor. Numbers don’t lie for the Finals MVP, averaging 21.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game at the Canadian National Basketball League.
Now, he’s out to prove himself in the ABL with Hong Kong Eastern. Alongside fellow World Imports TJ Price and Mike Holyfield, could he be the one to fill the shoes of veteran Marcus Elliott?
Nelson Chan, Macau Black Bears
YouTuber Nelson Chan makes his professional basketball dream come true as Macau Black Bear’s local point guard in the upcoming season. The man behind the YouTube channel “Hoop and Life” is passionate about basketball—creating video content about it. Although he did not have prior professional experience with the sport, the 5’7″ Chan has the potential to play at the professional level due to his smooth shooting, frenetic athleticism, good court vision, and all-out hustle on the court.
Making his pro debut with the Black Bears, could his lack of professional experience be a concern for him this season as he competes with great talents from around the region? Could Chan sustain productivity for the team as one of their trusted playmakers? The only way to find out is to watch out for him during the tenth season of the ABL.
Cai Chen, Macau Wolf Warriors
Wolf Warriors big man Cai Chen was the leading scorer among local players last ABL season. Cai was a bright spot in the team’s bleak 2-win campaign. Averaging 19.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game, the gentle giant sure knows how to handle his hoops.
With his remarkable stat line last season, can he maintain his numbers at a top-notch level and turn around their franchise? Could he be a potential candidate for the local MVP award?
Teerawat Chanthachon, Mono Vampire
Last year’s 8th-seeded Mono Vampire took down top-seeded Formosa Dreamers in a quarterfinals matchup that shocked the entire league. Although they lost in the semifinals, the team has shown that they’re capable of being better than finishing in the 8th spot. The signing of Ryan Watkins and Anthony Tucker has strengthened the team’s chances of competing for the title. However, with Tucker getting sidelined after injuring his foot, Mono will have to rely on their locals even more.
Teerawat Chanthachon will need to step up his production in the upcoming season of the ABL. Having suited up for 22 games last season, the local big man averaged only 3.1 points per game and 2.9 rebounds per game in 14.3 minutes. Despite being a member of the Thai national team multiple times, Mono still hasn’t gotten the most out of the big man. At just 24 years of age, he still has opportunities to improve his game and gradually increase his role in the team. He has the potential to be a solid piece in Mono’s rotation, something that the team would most certainly welcome.
Look for Chanthachon to make the most out of the opportunities that will come his way with this year’s Mono Vampire squad.
Tam Dinh, Saigon Heat
Vietnamese star Tam Dinh could be the ace for the Saigon Heat to finally find its way up the table. During his three years in the VBA, he managed to become a champion and an awardee of the Most Favorite Player of the Year in 2017. In his 2019 VBA season, he finished with an average of 24.5 points and shooting 54.8% from the field per game crowning him the Most Valuable Player.
At 29 years old, Dinh still has the ability to showcase his skillset among younger players. He is ready to knuckle down and replicate his VBA success to the ABL. The question is, can he do it?
Jeremiah Gray, San Miguel Alab Pilipinas
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas is facing an uphill battle in their quest to reclaim the title they held back in 2016 and it doesn’t help their case that Bobby Ray Parks Jr. is not coming back this season. There were a ton of prospects for the Philippine delegation but Jeremiah Gray is the most interesting one of them all. The 6-foot-4 dynamic scorer made his presence known to Filipino fans in his stint with Mighty Sports during a tournament overseas. His most notable moment is a poster-worthy dunk on a 7-foot-2 defender that led fans to anoint him as Parks’ replacement.
With the amount of hype that the Filipino-American has generated, it looks like coach Jimmy Alapag has a young and raw prospect which he can mold into a premier offensive weapon for Alab. Gray will definitely be a vital piece in Alab’s run for the title.
Leon Kwek, Singapore Slingers
Leon Kwek makes his awaited return for the Singapore Slingers in the tenth season of the ABL. He first played for the Slingers in the 2015–2016 season, but the following season was his most notable one—averaging 10.7 points, 3.5 rebounds while shooting at 44% from the field. After an efficient season, Kwek’s numbers suddenly dropped the following year after only playing seven games. He eventually took an absence from the league during the 2018–2019 season due to Singapore’s National Service policy.
Kwek’s comeback comes at the right time as long-time Slinger Ng Han Bin decided to retire from professional basketball after last season. The 23-year-old will have room to play a big role in the Singapore Slingers’ quest to return to the Finals. Will he be ready or will his one season absence affect his production on the court?
O.J. Mayo, Taipei Fubon Braves
The Taipei Fubon Braves are looking to make a splash in their very first season in the ABL and their decision to add one of the NBA’s most prolific scorers might be the perfect move for them. With his wealth of experience and elite talent, Mayo was the automatic choice for this list as the mere announcement of his signing caused shockwaves around the league.
The league has been graced by players with some form of NBA experience but Mayo could arguably be the best ex-NBA player to play in the league. Drafted 3rd overall by the Memphis Grizzlies back in 2008, he consistently tortured defenses for the better part of his NBA career. Having a player of his caliber on any team in the league would make that team a target and pressure is where Mayo excels at. He has repeatedly shown that he can be the go-to scorer in crunch time and the Taipei Fubon Braves are very much lucky to have him on their roster.
Having career averages of 13.8 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game, 2.9 assists per game and 1 steal per game, O.J. Mayo is the Braves’ player to watch out for this season.
Will Artino, Westports Malaysia Dragons
Being one of the Formosa Dreamers’ key signings last year, many were shocked by the big man’s jump to the Westports Malaysia Dragons for the tenth season of the ASEAN Basketball League. A season ago, Artino was a vital fixture for the Dreamers’ great ascension to the top of the table—from being dead last with a 1-19 record to becoming the number one seed with a 19-7 win-loss split. During his days as a Formosa Dreamer, Artino was one of their leading options on the frontcourt as he averaged a double-double of 20.7 points and 10.7 rebounds a game.
Later on in the offseason, Artino opted for a change in scenery as another struggling team, the Westports Malaysia Dragons, tapped his services to be their next World Import in hopes to end their playoff drought since winning the ABL championship back in 2016. Preparing for the ABL’s tenth season, the Dragons joined in an invitational tournament organized by the Malaysia Basketball Association (MABA), along with his former club, Formosa Dreamers. During their preseason conditioning, Artino stepped up for the Dragons throughout the tourney and was then named the Men’s Division MVP.
Dragons fans have something to watch out for as Will made an impact for the team during the preseason. In the tenth season of the league, can Artino bring the Dragons to the same heights with what he did with the Dreamers? Could he be the missing piece to bring the team back to its winning ways?