Taipei, March 14 (CNA) The ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) has suspended the rest of its 2019-2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement issued Friday by the league.
The 2019-2020 season, which began Nov. 16, 2019, has been suspended indefinitely for the safety of the teams and fans, said the ABL, which comprises 10 teams from East Asia and Southeast Asia, including Taiwan's Formosa Dreamers and Taipei Fubon Braves.
"The mission of the ASEAN Basketball League has always been to unite the region through competition and to break down barriers through basketball," ABL chief operating officer Jericho Ilagan said.
"However, as the international community is currently facing a global pandemic in the spread of COVID-19, it is with a heavy heart that we announce that we'll have to step away from the basketball court for now."
The COVID-19 disease, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) Wednesday, has infected more than 146,000 people around the world and killed over 5,400.
Prior to the ABL's shutdown of the rest of the season, it had been postponing games, including about 10 that were scheduled to be played in Taiwan in February and March.
Due to the pandemic, only one ABL game has been played since Feb. 23, while over 50 others have been suspended.
The ABL said it had "no other recourse" but to end the season early, before the scheduled March 29 date, in light of the travel restrictions and quarantine requirements pertaining to the team members' countries.
Commenting on the ABL's decision, Formosa Dreamers Chairman Chang Cheng-chung (張承中) said the team will continue its training sessions and adjust to the situation accordingly.
"This will allow the players to stay in the best shape and to be ready for matches at any given time," Chang said.
Meanwhile, the Taipei Fubon Braves thanked their fans for their support and understanding and urged everyone to stay safe and healthy during the pandemic.
The Formosa Dreamers are currently in fourth place in the league standings, carding an 8-6 record, while the Taipei Fubon Braves are just one spot below in fifth place with a 9-8 record.