PETALING JAYA: The fifth season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) is set to begin on July 16 instead of its usual January tip-off.
This is due to the Myanmar SEA Games, which were held last December and the 2015 Singapore SEA Games which will be held in June.
And, for the first time since the ABL’s inception in 2009, there will not be a defending champion or even a representative from regional powerhouse Philippines as the San Miguel Beermen have decided to opt out from the tournament.
The Beermen won the title last year after defeating 2012 champions Indonesia Warriors 3-0.
Sports Rev Thailand Slammers, who won the second-season of the ABL as the Chang Thailand Slammers, have also pulled out from the competition.
There will still be six teams in action, with newcomers Laskar Hang Tuah Dreya of Indonesia and Chonburi Hi-Tech Bangkok confirming their participation.
The other four teams are the Warriors, Saigon Heat, Jobstreet.com Singapore Slingers and Westports Malaysia Dragons.
“Welcoming two new teams is a great way to start the 2014 season,” said ABL chief operations officer Ridi Djajakusuma.
“Although we are disappointed not to have a representative from the Philippines this year, we feel that the competition will still be at its highest level.
“All the teams are also committed and determined to help develop the league and the local players in the region.”
The ABL has also made minor adjustments to the Asean player import rule, with each team now only allowed to have two Asean players, instead of three previously.
Teams, however, are still allowed to bring in two world-class imports.