The Adriatic League or as people know it better, the ABA League is a 1st tier regional men’s professional basketball league. It was renamed to the ABA League First Division in 2017. Originally, it featured clubs from the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia). Due to sponsorship reasons, the league was also known as the Goodyear League from 2001 to 2006. From 2006 to 2011. it’s name was the NLB League.
The league coexists alongside scaled-down national leagues in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. All but one of Adriatic League clubs join their country’s own competitions in late spring after the Adriatic League regular season and post-season have been completed. In the past, the league has also consisted of clubs from Bulgaria (Levski), the Czech Republic (ČEZ Nymburk), Hungary (Szolnoki Olaj), and Israel (Maccabi FOX) that received wild card invitations.
The Adriatic League is a private venture, that first came to be in 2001. It was run by the Sidro, a Slovenian company, until 2015. Since then, the league is under the reigns of the ABA League JTD. They Zagreb-based general partnership for organizing sports competitions. Adriatic Basketball Association is the body that organizes the league and is a full member of ULEB, as well as a voting member of Euroleague Basketball’s board.
In the years following the breakup of SFR Yugoslavia and ensuing the Yugoslav Wars, different basketball administrators from the newly independent Balkan states were talking about the idea of re-assembling a joint basketball competition. The idea was to fill the void of the dissolution of the former Yugoslav Basketball League whose last season was 1991–92.
However, no concrete action towards that end was taken before the summer 2000 ULEB-supported creation of Euroleague Basketball Company under the leadership of Jordi Bertomeu that immediately confronted FIBA Europe, then proceeded to take a handful of top European clubs into its new competition for the 2000–01 season. Eventually, an organizational split in European club basketball was looming over them. During the 2000–01 split in the continent’s top club competition, local Balkan basketball administrators from the ULEB-affiliated clubs Cibona, Olimpija, and Budućnost (that already competed in this new ‘breakaway’ Euroleague competition) shifted the discussions of creating a regional Balkan-wide basketball league into higher gear.
On the public relations front, the Adriatic League was met with strong and mixed reactions. It was hailed it as an important step for the development of club basketball in the Balkans region. However, others felt that it brings no new quality and that it’s not worth dismantling three domestic leagues. There was a lot of negative reaction from political circles, especially in Croatia. There were TV panel discussions around all Croatian state television channels. A very vociferous opinion in the country saw the league’s formation as a political attempt to reinstate Yugoslavia.
As of the 2013–14 season the league comprises a 26-game regular season, with the top 4 sides making the play-offs. From 2002 through 2004, four teams qualified, and the playoffs were termed the “Final Four”; starting in 2005, eight teams advanced to the “Final Eight” round. All playoff rounds consist of one-off knockout matches, unusual among European leagues. However, all Adriatic League clubs play in domestic leagues at the same time. A lot of them play in the EuroLeague as well. For this reason, the current format has the virtue of limiting fixture congestion for the playoff sides.
In 2017, the ABA League Second Division came to be. The last team from the ABA League would face relegation to the Second Division. Conversely, the winner of the 2nd league will replace the relegated side. Popularity wise, the ABA league is not even close to the NBA. However, it does hold one of the top places in Europe. The Euroleague is obviously the most popular basketball tournament in Europe. Nevertheless, the ABA league has a lot of followers and fans all around Eastern Europe.
The Adriatic League Today
In early October, the bank in which the ABA league has an open account blocked its transactions. This suggests problems for its overall business operations. The league came into such a state as a consequence of unresolved legal-property relations. Also, disagreements between the clubs before the start of the new season have been happening. More than a month later and all the problems still remain. The league has been falling into debt which might bring into question the organization of the upcoming games.
According to Mozzart Sport’s Djordje Matic, the league sent a letter to the clubs stating that, due to debt to hotels, the organization of Round 7 is in danger as they could cancel the reservations. An additional problem has been the ‘Borik’ hotel in Zadar where the referees stay and which won’t work throughout November.
The same source states that the league owes as much as 145,000 euros to the hotels. 9500 euroes are owed to the employees of the hotels. By the end of the month, 45,000 euros of taxes will arrive, which will make matters even worse. The league didn’t submit the financial report to the authorities by the necessary deadline. That will cost the league from a thousand to 13,000 euros in fines. Additionally, this sum can potentially go up to 26,000 for unpaid taxes.
Popularity wise, the ABA League is among the first in Europe. The EuroLeague holds the top spot but around the Balkans, the ABA League holds the top spot. At the moment, the competition has 14 teams taking part in it.
- BC Igokea
- FMP Beograd
- Borac Cacak
- Cedevita Olimpija
- Crvena Zvezda
- Mega Bemax
- Novo Mesto
- Sixt Primorska
As you can see, there are some teams here that also play in the EuroLeague. For that reason, basketball betting is extremely popular for the ABA League. Check the Coinbet24 Bitcoin Sportsbook for the best odds and markets. Additionally, players can also bet on the NBA, EuroLeague, and the rest of the top rated Basketball leagues.