ABL 'unlikely to play for foreseeable future,' Singapore Slingers say

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--An era in Southeast Asian basketball could be coming to an end as the ABL has stopped its operations anew and it might possibly be for good.

The Singapore Slingers, one of the ABL's pioneering clubs upon its foundation in 2009, said that the regional basketball league "is unlikely to play [again] for the foreseeable future."

According to Singapore, FIBA now has different plans for Southeast Asia moving forward, but the ABL is not part of them.

"After 11 seasons and millions of dollars spent building a strong brand and lifting the standard of regional basketball, the ABL was informed by FIBA that the league does not fit into FIBA's future plans for basketball in the region. FIBA will be selective of which leagues it would support and allow moving forward," the Slingers' statement continued.

They added that the national federations of the countries that are participating in the ABL have already been notified of FIBA's latest decision.

However, the Slingers rued that the ruling "essentially denied the ABL a viable future."

"The ABL has spent the last two years trying to find a compromise with FIBA without success," they added.

The ABL returned after a three-year hiatus amid the COVID-19 pandemic by holding the ABL Invitational at the start of the year with eight teams joining, including former MPBL club Zamboanga Valientes.

Despite parading former NBA champion Mario Chalmers, Zamboanga missed out on making the playoffs, and Hong Kong Eastern eventually won the championship.

However, barring any positive development, Eastern's title run could be the final curtain call for the league that has helped tremendously in the improvement of the Southeast Asian basketball scene, which became very evident when Indonesia stunned Gilas Pilipinas to win the 2022 SEA Games gold in Hanoi.

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