The second season of the Cambodian Basketball League will be up and running from July 5 at its new home, the recently renovated indoor hall of the Olympic Stadium, which can house up to 7,000 spectators and comes complete with a brand new wooden floor.
The day-to-day affairs of the CBL will be handled by an organising committee while one of the Cambodian Basketball Federation’s functionaries will assume the role of league commissioner, according to an agreement reached earlier between the CBF and CamBasket, a group of representatives from various participating clubs.
Sources with intimate knowledge of the protracted negotiations between the CBF and CamBasket told thePost on condition of anonymity that the sides had often been driven apart by their divergent views on many organisational issues.
Like last year, 12 teams will be on the roster, with most of the matches fixed for Saturdays during the season, stretching up to the grand final in December. Some odd games are likely to be played on
A major regulation, designed to boost the Cambodian stock in the CBL, is a mandate that every team have at least three local players in its ranks.
The entire season will be split into two phases. All 12 teams will play each other in a round-robin competition from July to November. The best eight teams will progress to a monthlong playoff.
Registration is still open and organisers are hopeful of filling up the roster with the best teams in the country.
The all-Cambodian Sela Meas, who finished third last year, will launch their bid for the title with a new name and some new recruits. The side has registered as Mekong Tigers this season, roping in Meas Ravuth and Meas Pich from NSK Dream and winning over Nim Vannak from CCPL Heat.
The Tigers’ preparation has been going so well that they haven’t lost a single preseason game.
Many players from last season’s runners-up, IRB The Lord, have joined hands to form a new unit, calling themselves Emperors. Led by Monh Ratana, Emperors can count on the experience of former national players Hai and Veng Ngoun besides Chao Prohors, a former Sela Meas player who has stacked up impressive stats in tune-up games so far.
Inaugural season champions Alaxan FR Patriots, managed so well by Chris Borja last year, may have to deal with the new Cambodian players regulation dominated as the side is by foreigners.
However, this readjustment by no means will make the Patriots any easier to handle when they hit the court, and they will once again be odds-on favourites to retain the title.
Among the teams finishing midfield last season, Pate 310 have staged a coup of sorts by signing in Ouch Phanat, one of last sea-son’s revelations.
Some more teams from the inaugural show have assumed new names. CCPL have replaced Heat with Warriors and Phnom Penh Dragons may well go out as
“It should be an exciting season. We will have the best teams in the roster and the new centrally located venue could not have been better for players, officials and fans,” Michael Dibbern, one of the members of the organising panel, told the Post.
“This will be a great advertisement for Cambodian basketball.”