To the soundtrack of echoing cheers, squeaking shoes and thudding balls, the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) lights up KL’s MABA Stadium in a quartet of heart-stopping games this January.
Recognised as the primary regional professional basketball league in Asia, and the first when it debuted in 2009, ABL functions as a stage for top-notch men’s basketball action in the region. 10 teams from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong have committed themselves to the heat of battle this season, with the top eight entering the playoffs.
Matches take place in various stadiums throughout the aforementioned countries, and best believe the domestic support for each team playing at home is overwhelming. Revamped rules allow three world imports to complement local players this season, favouring the ABL trend of ex-NBA star signings. The mix of talents make for an exciting show – just ask an ardent follower of the league and they’re apt to launch into a monologue of MVPs, buzzer-beaters and legendary rivalries!
Look up the MABA Stadium and you’d discover that it’s also known as the Dragon’s Den, a formidable nickname driving home the fact that this is the stomping ground for the home team, Westports Malaysia Dragons. One of the ABL pioneering squads, the Dragons have had quite the run in the league, emerging as champions in the 2015-2016 season, with two Finals appearances, and six post-season trips decorating their list of achievements as well.
Now the team seeks to claw their way to the top of the table after starting on the back foot with indefinitely injured marquee player, NBA veteran Sundiata Gaines. Having lost their first game of the season to the Singapore Slingers, the Dragons are digging deep for their following matches with stand-in marquee Chris Eversley, under the guidance of coach Jamie Pearlman.
Chris Eversley assumes the role of marquee player while Sundiata Gaines recovers from injury
Catch the stout-hearted Malaysian line-up giving it their all on the MABA court this month as they take on the Saigon Heat team on 2 January, the Hong Kong Eastern team on 6 January, the San Miguel Alab Pilipinas team on 9 January and Macau’s Wolf Warriors on 13 January.
ASEAN Basketball League
WHERE MABA Stadium, Kuala Lumpur
WHEN 8.30pm (2 Jan), 2.30pm (6 Jan), 8.30pm (9 Jan), 2.30pm (13 Jan)
ADMISSION RM19-149 (adult), RM9 (student), RM5 (child under 12)