Asean Basketball League season ends without a champion amid COVID-19

The CSL Knights Indonesia players celebrating their Asean Basketball League Finals win, as the Singapore Slingers' Jerran Young walks away from the OCBC Arena court. (PHOTO: Stefanus Ian/Yahoo News Singapore)
The CSL Knights Indonesia players celebrating their 2019 Asean Basketball League Finals win over the Singapore Slingers. (FILE PHOTO: Stefanus Ian/Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — The 2019/20 ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) season will end with no champion being declared, as the league could find no safe way to complete the remaining fixtures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a media statement on Wednesday (15 July), the ABL said that it will now turn its efforts to planning for the 2021 ABL season, and hope to make announcements on the next season after completing consultations among the participating teams.

The 10-team league had been suspended since 13 March, with teams having played between 10 and 17 games each. Teams were supposed to play 26 games each for the season, with eight of them entering the post-season playoffs to decide the champions.

“The ABL Board have met and announced today that the ABL Season 2019/20 will be deemed concluded,” it said in the statement.

“The league recognises 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 categorised 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 2019/20 season was ABL’s 10th since its inception in 2009. The CLS Knights Indonesia team were the previous champions, but decline to participate this season. Thailand’s Mono Vampire team were leading the league when the fixtures were suspended in March.

The Singapore Slingers had played in every ABL season, finishing runners-up thrice in 2016, 2017 and 2019.

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