After the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) announced their final list of the nine teams that will see action in the 2017-2018 season, including three new teams and one returning club, Chief Operation Officer Jericho Ilagan confirmed that northern Vietnamese Basketball Association (VBA) club Hanoi Buffaloes had also intended to join the league this year.
“The Hanoi Buffaloes actually wanted to join this year. The (ABL) board approved, pending their requirements completion. Then it was up to the Saigon Heat to approve, which they also did,” but he added “requirements and readiness bogged down the talks.”
Buffaloes head coach Todd Purves had already previously confirmed to ASEANSports their intention to join, but said the management group decided to postpone their entry for at least another year for good reason.
“Our owner Mr. Kien Tran would like to build our own arena before joining ABL. We have a long term plan for the Buffaloes and he and I share the same vision. We are determined to join the ABL, but just need to make sure we have a solid foundation so that we can commit for a long time successfully.”
The Buffaloes play their VBA home games in the serviceable Bách Khoa Arena in the nation's capital, which most fans say would hardly meet the standards of an international league.
Hanoi got their feet wet in a similar international tournament when they joined the Thailand Basketball Super League (TBSL), a league meant to be a direct competitor to the ABL that was formed when both Thailand clubs Mono Vampire and Hi-tech Bangkok City left two seasons ago.
When asked about another run in the Thai League where they placed third overall, Coach Purves gave a crisp negative: “No, we will not be joining TBSL. Without home games there is just not enough value for us there.”
While fans will have to wait at least another year before seeing the Buffaloes in international league action, rest assured, they will not disappoint when they finally do.
“We are committed to serving the Hanoi community through basketball and will continue to build the team and organization in a fundamental and sustainable way. “