MANILA, Philippines – After exploring all avenues and hearing teams’ pleas to cease operations, the ASEAN Basketball League finally stood down and suspended its ongoing 10th season on Friday, March 13, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This development comes after San Miguel Alab Pilipinas and multiple Chinese teams simultaneously pleaded for the league to pause operations amid the worsening health crisis.
However, one team resorted to more extreme measures, as Thailand’s Mono Vampire pulled out of the league altogether in the wake of the virus crisis. They are currently top-seeded in the league with a 12-4 record.
“This is one of the most difficult decisions for our club. However, we need to be responsible to players, officials, coaches, as well as society and to comply with government policies to stop all sporting events in order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus,” Mono’s statement read.
“Therefore, we would like to inform you that we decided not to participate in the remaining ABL games of this season.”
At roughly the same time, the league also released its statement regarding overall suspension of activities.
“With the safety of our teams and fans in mind, the league has followed every protocol, obeyed travel restrictions, and erred on the side of caution at every step to protect everyone involved,” the statement read.
“The ABL was one of the first leagues to react to the current health crisis with the postponement of more than 50 games that started early February. Only a single ABL game has been played after February 23.”
That was the game between the Kuala Lumpur Dragons and the Singapore Slingers last March 6.
Prior to the announcement, the league had games slated to restart on Friday, March 20, with the Philippines playing its first game in Laguna on March 22.
“The ABL explored all options in an effort to continue to deliver top-quality basketball and entertainment to our loyal fans. The league looked at booking neutral venues where multiple teams could play some of their postponed games,” the statement continued.
“However, the travel restrictions in the region, the quarantine requirements upon the teams’ return to their respective countries, and heeding the advice of multiple government institutions have led to the decision to suspend our season.”
Currently, the league houses 5 teams within or near mainland China, the source of COVID-19.
With the pullout of Mono in effect, the league is now down to 9 teams. – Rappler.com