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Singapore, Malaysia engage in early finals rematch in ABL opener

The officials of the ABL teams met the media during the league's press launch. Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

PARAÑAQUE—The 2017 ABL season will begin like how the 2016 season ended.

The Malaysia Dragons open their title defense against the team they beat for all the marbles the last time out, the Singapore Slingers, in Day 1 of the ABL's Season 7 on Nov. 25.

In an interesting manner, however, the early finals rematch at 8 p.m. will take place at the runners-up's turf at the OCBC Arena as per a copy of the complete regular season schedule given to Dugout Philippines during the press launch of the new season at the Solaire Grand Ballroom on Monday.

In fact, the Dragons will not play their home opener until Jan. 6, when it will be their turn to host the Slingers as part of the ABL's special "Causeway Rivalry" weekend in which they will meet again two days later back in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Kaohsiung and Eastern, the league's first two non-ASEAN sides, begin their historic campaigns against each other at the former's I-Shou University Gym on Nov. 27 at 3 p.m.

On the other hand, Alab, the new Filipino side on the block, debuts against the Slingers at the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan five hours later.

Alab will play its home games in various locations as part of its advocacy to champion grassroots basketball, although co-owner Charlie Dy bared that Alab will get to play in Metro Manila.

The sixth participating team this season, Saigon, opens its own ABL quest against Singapore on Dec. 3 at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh, now tagged as the league's loudest venue.

Teams will play a quadruple round robin elimination phase with the top four teams entering the best-of-three semifinals, which in turn will determine the protagonists in the best-of-three finals.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno