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With defending champs out, wide open race in ABL's 10th season

With defending champs out, wide open race in ABL's 10th season

MANILA, Philippines—The ASEAN Basketball League welcomed its newest team for its 10th season which launched on Thursday.

Taiwanese club Fubon Braves, the reigning champion in the Super Basketball League, completes the 10-team field which will be without defending champions CLS Knights Indonesia.

Joining Fubon, which will open the festivities on Nov. 16,  are San Miguel Alab Pilipinas, Formosa Dreamers, Hong Kong Eastern, Macau Black Bears, Mono Vampire, Saigon Heat, Singapore Slingers, Westports Malaysia Dragons, and Wolf Warriors.

Alab will look to replicate their success from 2018 without three-time Local MVP Bobby Ray Parks, who is now part of Blackwater in the PBA.

ABL COO Jericho Ilagan said this season will be a wide-open title race, seeing how the teams have built their teams in the off-season.

“I think this would be our most exciting season to date due to the fact that we can’t really say who’s coming out on top,” said Ilagan on Thursday at Conrad Manila.

“Most of the teams have stacked up really well if we use the argument of the best team on paper it’s still hard to pick one or two.”

The Heat are eyeing to continue their streak of five straight playoff appearances while the Slingers look to claim their first ABL title on the back of reigning MVP Xavier Alexander and import Marcus Elliot.

New head coach John Brady leads Hong Kong along with young imports TJ Price and Trey Kell.

The Dragons are out to prove that they are still title contenders despite missing out on the playoffs for the past three seasons while the Black Bears will try to improve, or at least, replicate their 14-12 finish from last year.

Kyle Julius, who previously led Saigon, will now call the shots for the Dreamers who finished with the best record last season at 19-7.

The Vampire are on a totally new atmosphere after signing former Black Bears Anthony Tucker and Ryan Watkins while also welcoming new coach Andrej Urep, a former shot caller for the Slovenia’s U22 team.

Todd Purves, the former active consultant of Petron in the PBA, will lead the Wolf Warriors in their redemption arc after finishing with a league-worst 2-24 record the previous season.