ABL to return in November with nine teams hinh anh 1Representatives of ABL take part in the press conference announcing new season. (Photo of organisers)

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - The ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) will be back with a record nine teams this season, organisers announced at a press conference in Manila, the Philippines, on October 17.

In its ninth edition, the league will see four newcomers — Formosa Dreamers (Chinese Taipei), Nanhai Long Lions (China), CLS Knights Indonesia (Indonesia), and Mono Vampire Basketball Club (Thailand).

They will be against Westports Malaysia Dragons, Singapore Slingers, Saigon Heat, Alab Pilipinas and defending champions, Hong Kong Eastern.

One of the oldest clubs in the country, CLS Knights Indonesia seeks to further promote the brand to the world.

Established in 2014, the Mono Vampire Basketball Club of Thailand has made great strides as a basketball club, finishing in the fifth place in the recent FIBA Asia Champions Cup.

The Formosa Dreamers are replacing Kaohsiung Truth as Taipei’s representative this season. The newly established team will be hosting its games in the city of Changhua.

Nanhai Long Lions are looking to use the team as a vessel to give more opportunities to local players in the basketball-crazed nation.

All the teams are allowed to hire two World Imports and two Heritage Imports to bolster their rosters. They will be divided into three groups and will play a total of 20 games — 10 home and 10 away — over the course of the season.

The top two teams in the overall standings will advance to the semi-finals, while the third to sixth placers will first have to compete in the quarter-finals stage.

In the opener match on November 17, Nanhai Long Lions will take on Singapore Slingers.

Vietnam representative Saigon Heat will play its first match against Formosa Dreamers on December 9 at their home turf of CIS Arena in HCM City.

The Heat is currently competing at the national Vietnam Basketball League and ranks second after nine matches. It is their sixth season at the ABL. In the last three years, the Heat stopped at the semi-finals. This year, they will be supported by Canadian coach Kyle Julius who is expected to lift them to a new height.

Before coming to Vietnam, Julius, 37, worked three years at the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC). He led London Lightning to a 35-5 record and finished the season with the title after beating the Halifax Hurricanes in the 2016-17 finals.

He was then named head coach of the 3D Global Sports team, which represented Canada in the 39th William Jones Cup in Chinese Taipei. His team had an 8-1 record, securing them the William Jones Championship over several Asian National Teams including the Philippines.

The former Canadian Senior National Team player said he looked forward to the challenge of coaching in this new league and the region, also admitting that he needed a change of scenery.-VNA