Add the ASEAN Basketball League to ABS-CBN Sports’ growing portfolio.
Beginning this Sunday, November 27, games of the upcoming ABL season will air on S+A channel 23 and on ABS-CBN Sports’ official website. The broadcasts will include all home games of the Alab Pilipinas team, as well as a select number of contests.
The ASEAN Basketball League will enter its seventh season of operation. While the league traditionally consists of teams based in Southeast Asian countries, two East Asia-based clubs will join the ABL this season.
The two clubs in question are the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions and the Kaohsiung Truth. They will join the aforementioned Alab Pilipinas club, along with holdovers Saigon Heat, Westports Malaysia Dragons and the Singapore Slingers.
The history of the ABL in the Philippines has been influential and controversial, with one season featuring no Filipino representative. Twice a Filipino club won the ABL championship (2009-10 Philippine Patriots and 2013 San Miguel Beermen), while one other team (2015-16 Pilipinas MX3 Kings) managed to survive only one season due to mismanagement.
The league also saw some Filipino and Fil-foreign players suit up as imports for other teams, mainly to influence and guide local talent. And last season, current Phoenix Fuel Masters head coach Ariel Vanguardia won the ABL championship with the Westports Malaysia Dragons.
Despite that, the ABL remains a league that is not necessarily known to the average Filipino. Local television coverage of the league has been spotty, with networks such as ESPN Star Sports (later FOX Sports Asia), PTV-4, TV5 and Solar Sports providing only a season’s worth of ABL broadcasts.
That said, the deal with ABS-CBN Sports should give the ABL even greater exposure than before. With the former’s vast broadcast range and up-to-date facilities, it should help the ABL reach out further to every Filipino household.
Let’s just hope that the relationship between the ABL and ABS-CBN Sports will last longer than one season, provided that the Philippines will continue its representation. As for Alab Pilipinas, good luck.