The ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) has announced that it is concluding its 10th season but expressed optimism regarding next year’s campaign, quelling rumors that it was already folding up in the face of COVID-19 pandemic.
The league released a statement on Wednesday afternoon that effectively ended the 2019-2020 season, which was suspended on March 13 because of the health crisis.
"The ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) board have met and announces today that the ABL Season 2019-2020 will be deemed concluded as there is no safe way to complete the remaining fixtures This decision is not an easy one and has not been made lightly. The overriding factor of our social responsibility, health and the well-being of all our stakeholders was at the forefront of the discussion," the league’s statement read.
"At all times, the ABL board have been conscious of our charter, to provide a high level regional basketball competition platform for teams to compete and athletes to showcase their skills while entertaining fans in a safe and enjoyable manner."
The ABL’s unique home-and-away format makes it virtually impossible for them to stage games with all the travel restrictions that are being imposed in every country.
"As the COVID-19 turned into a pandemic, the nature of the league's operation and fixtures have been severely impacted by the closure of borders and activities in order to contain the virus.
"With that in mind, the league recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present significant challenges to our operation and safety of everyone, thus rendering completion of the league improbable.
"The league would be categorized as incomplete due to the nature of the league's format with a playoff system, it would be impossible to determine a rightful champion," the statement continued.
The Philippines is being represented in the ABL by the Alab Pilipinas. Several Cebuanos have also made names for themselves in this league, most notably Patrick Cabahug and Jerick Cañada who helped the Hi-Tech Bangkok City win the 2014 ABL championship.
The ABL added that it is now looking forward to formulating plans for its 11th season after it consults with the other member teams.
"We will now turn our efforts into planning for the next ASEAN Basketball League season in 2021 and hope to make announcements on the 11th ABL Season after completing consultations among the teams," the statement read. (JNP)