KUALA LUMPUR (ASEAN Basketball League) - The first international basketball league in South-East Asia will take off in September 2009.
In the presence of FIBA President, Bob Elphinston and FIBA Secretary General and IOC Member Patrick Baumann, the South East Asia Basketball Association (SEABA) under the leadership of Mr Thohir and Dato Yeoh Choo Hock announced the launch of the ‘ASEAN Basketball League’ (ABL) yesterday.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, commonly abbreviated ASEAN, is a geo-political and economic organization of 10 countries located in Southeast Asia, which was formed on 8 August 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand and has since then expanded membership to Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Following the good response from the ASEAN market to the experience of the club team ‘Singapore Slingers’ in Singapore, SEABA has decided that the league will consist of 10 teams from about 7 ASEAN countries (e.g. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, etc.).
The ABL, which will be played between September 2009 and February 2010 will have home-and-away matches. There will also be a knockout stage, culminating with the final.
Local talents will comprise the majority of players and only four imports—two non-Asians and two Asians—will be allowed to play in each team.
The Chairmanship has been taken by Tony Fernandes, Chair of the successful airline AirAsia and of the Singapore Slingers. His experience in opening new businesses and new markets as well as his abilities in the branding and licensing business will prove invaluable to the successful establishment of the League.
With today's announcement, bids can be submitted to SEABA for the 10 available club franchises. Candidates will be submitted to stringent professional and economical requirements to ensure the long term success of the league. The league will also install a salary cap to provide the necessary balance between teams.
The league aims at cementing the relationship between ASEAN countries through basketball, creating the first pan-ASEAN entertainment and sports property and developing local basketball talents, in an area that covers a population of 600 million people.
FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann said at the media brief in Kuala Lumpur: "The ASEAN Basketball League is the first of its kind in Asia and a welcome indication of the maturity achieved by our sport. It will further boost the popularity of basketball in this area and beyond, while creating new opportunities and dreams for the FIBA family. We look forward to seeing new talents and countries emerge in basketball in the next five years as a result of this project."
"This is a historic day,” stated Tony Fernandes. “We have prepared an elaborate paper on the franchise and we are looking for people with the financial ability to last the pace,” he added.
“A dream is coming true for our region," stated Dato Yeoh Choo Hock. “This is a long-term project and we want teams who can stay the distance and have the ability to improve the game in their own country. The objective is to raise the standard of the sport in our region,” he said.