- Liga ABA
Liga ABA Current season or competition:
2011–12 Liga ABA
NLB League logo
Sport Basketball Founded 2001 Commissioner Josip Bilić No. of teams 14 Country(ies) Bosnia and Herzegovina
Most recent champion(s) KK Partizan Most titles KK Partizan (5) Official website adriaticbasket.info
Liga ABA, also known as Adriatic League, until September 2011 known as the NLB Liga ABA for sponsorship reasons, is a top-level regional basketball league, featuring teams from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Israel, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.
The league exists alongside scaled-down national leagues in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, and Montenegro (Košarkaška liga Srbije, A1 Liga, Prvenstvo BiH, 1. SKL, and Opportunity Liga). All but one of Adriatic League teams join their country's own competitions in late spring after the Adriatic League regular season and post-season have been completed. The only exception to the above is Maccabi Tel Aviv, which plays a full schedule in the Israeli national league Ligat HaAl.
Adriatic League is a private venture, founded in 2001 and organized by Slovenian limited liability company called Sidro. Adriatic Basketball Association is the body that organizes the league and is a full member of ULEB as well as a voting member of the Euroleague board. The competition can be thus be considered a local version of the Europe-wide Euroleague, in which a few Adriatic League clubs also compete (usually Partizan, Cibona, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Olimpija). Adriatic League has inspired a similar competition in the Baltic states - the Baltic Basketball League or Baltic League.
Throughout mid-to-late 1990s, in the years after the breakup of SFR Yugoslavia and ensuing Yugoslav Wars, various basketball administrators from the newly-independent Balkan states talked about re-assembling a basketball competition to fill the void left by the dissolution of the Yugoslav basketball league whose last season was played in 1991-92.
Such a competition was agreed upon in principal at a meeting in Ljubljana on 3 July 2001 by representatives of four basketball clubs: KK Bosna, KK Budućnost, KK Cibona, and KK Olimpija. The day is considered to be the league's foundation date. Though club representatives from four countries attended the meeting, the main individuals behind the venture were six Slovenians and Croatians: Roman Lisac, Zmago Sagadin (at the time head coach of Olimpija and arguably the biggest authority figure in Slovenian basketball), Radovan Lorbek (at the time president of Olimpija), Josip Bilić, Danko Radić, and Bože Miličević (at the time president of Cibona). The name chosen for the competition was the Adriatic League, invoking the Adriatic Sea as a common thread for participant countries thus purposely avoiding the terms 'Balkans' or 'Yugoslavia' that at the time carried a fairly undesirable public perception in Slovenia and an extremely negative one in Croatia. Established as a private venture, the league was placed under umbrella of Sidro d.o.o. company that was registered in Slovenia on 14 September 2001. The company actually controls the competition through legal entity called Adriatic Basketball Association (ABA), which also manages the league's day to day operations.
At a time when European club basketball was in turmoil with clubs divided between embattled FIBA and surging ULEB, the Adriatic League founders used those circumstances to carve out a place on the map for their organization by tying their boat to ULEB, which was seemingly on the way up and looking poised to wrestle the top continental club competition (Euroleague) out of FIBA's hands. Logistically, the 2001 establishment of the Balkan-wide regional Adriatic League meant that existing national basketball leagues in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina underwent major re-organization with their respective top clubs leaving the domestic competitions to compete in the regional one. Still, the national leagues weren't fully dismantled, though they were largely marginalized since their respective best clubs only returned in late spring for the end of the season. The only exception to the above was KK Budućnost that continued playing full schedule in FR Yugoslavia's domestic YUBA league (which remained intact) in parallel with its participation in the Adriatic League.
On the public relations front, Adriatic League was met with strong and mixed reactions. Though many hailed it as an important step for the development of club basketball in the Balkans region, many others felt that it brings no new quality and that it is not worth dismantling three domestic leagues. There was a lot of negative reaction from political circles, especially in Croatia, with even TV panel discussions being broadcast on Croatian state television. A very vociferous opinion in the country saw the league's formation as a political attempt to reinstate Yugoslavia. The league organizers for their part did their best to appease the Croatian public with statements such as the one delivered by Radovan Lorbek in Slobodna Dalmacija in September 2001:
“ This is not a Yugoslav league, and it will never become a Yugoslav league. The Adriatic League has no clubs from Serbia and Macedonia, therefore the Adriatic League and a Yugoslav league are not the same thing. ”
Ten years later, in a 2011 interview for the Serbian newspaper Press, Roman Lisac explained the league's behind the scenes strategy during its nascent stages was actually quite different:
“ I'm convinced the league would've never been able to survive without Serbian clubs. Getting Red Star and Partizan to join the league was something that we worked on from day one. However, the situation ten years ago was not that simple. Too much antagonistic post-war politics was still all around us, and it made our task all the more difficult. Everything that smelled of old Yugoslavia caused a lot of resistance both in Croatia and in Serbia. I repeat, the idea of having both Red Star and Partizan in the league was there from the very beginning, but we avoided talking about it publicly because of politics. ”
On 28 September 2001, the league announced a five-year sponsorship deal with Slovenian company Sava Tires from Kranj, a subsidiary of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. The deal also included naming rights, hence from 2001 until 2006, the competition was known as the Goodyear League.
With twelve clubs taking part in the inaugural 2001-2002 season, the competition commenced in fall 2001 with 4 teams from Slovenia, 4 teams from Croatia, 3 teams from Bosnia-Herzegovina, and 1 team from FR Yugoslavia. The very first game was contested in Ljubljana between KK Olimpija and HKK Široki on Saturday, 29 September 2001 at 5:30pm.
Though the competition purported to gather the strongest sides from former Yugoslavia, as mentioned, teams from Serbia were noticebly absent, particularly Belgrade powerhouses and biggest regional crowd draws KK Partizan and Red Star Belgrade. In addition to no clubs from Serbia proper, the league had no Serb-dominated clubs from Bosnia-Herzegovina either. Since the league founders mostly avoided talking about the issue due to fears of media backlash, the fact that no invitations were extended to Serbian clubs was generally explained through security issues due to organizers' fears of crowd trouble if Croatian and Serbian clubs were to start playing again in the same competition. Then in early February 2002, the public got a preview of just that when Cibona and Partizan met in Zagreb as part of that season's Euroleague group stage. In a nationalistically charged and incident-filled encounter, Croatian fans peppered the Partizan players with rocks, flares, and even ceramic tiles before physically assaulting Partizan head coach Duško Vujošević in the guest team dressing room after the game.
The Adriatic League debut season was marked by dwindling attendances and lukewarm media support. Still the league did receive a bit of a shot in the arm on 24 February 2002, when its managing body ABA got accepted as full member of ULEB.
For the 2002-03 season, the league remained at the total number of 12 teams, while it went through major re-tooling internally. By the time season started, four teams dropped out (Sloboda Dita, KK Budućnost, Triglav, and Geoplin Slovan) to be replaced by: Israeli powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv, Red Star Belgrade (the first team from Serbia in the competition), the Bosnian Serb outfit KK Borac, and Croatian club KK Zagreb.
Getting Maccabi on board brought the league some much needed credibility and positive media exposure. Still, it was understood all along the Tel Aviv club wouldn't stick around for long. Much more important for the league's long term business was negotiating acceptable terms for the Serbian clubs to join the competition. To that end, Lorbek and Lisac went to Belgrade in early April 2002 with an offer of taking in three clubs from FR Yugoslavia for the Adriatic League's 2002-03 season. The offer was flatly rejected initially by the representatives of five YUBA league clubs - Partizan, Red Star, Hemofarm, FMP, and Budućnost - as their unified platform was either all five or nothing. Taking in all five required expanding the league to 14 teams, which was something the league organizers weren't prepared to do due to the associated increase in operating costs. The negotiated agreement thus fell through for the time being. However, it didn't take long for dents to appear in the unified front put forth by five YUBA league clubs - in May 2002 Red Star's management (three businessmen close to the Serbian ruling Democratic Party: Živorad Anđelković, Igor Žeželj, and Goran Vesić) hired Zmago Sagadin to be the club's new general manager - and soon after, in June 2002, the club broke the ranks by negotiating terms on its own thus agreeing to join the Adriatic League for the 2002-03 season.
Maccabi Tel Aviv left the league after one season, but the league expanded to 14 teams for 2003-04, and to 16 for 2004-05.
The league reverted to 14 teams for 2005-06. In September 2006 the league signed a general sponsorship contract with Nova ljubljanska banka (NLB) and was renamed to NLB League, whilst keeping Goodyear as one of the major sponsors.
In 2010, the Czech club Nymburk joined the league for the first time.
In 2011, in search of increased level of competition, the Israeli powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv returned to the league after an eight-year absence. In next season 2012 ABA league is going to have the first Macedonian team , KK MZT Skopje.
Like most European leagues, the regular season consists of a double round-robin schedule, with each team playing every other team home and away. The top teams in the league then advance to a playoff round to crown the league champion.
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, since all Adriatic League clubs play in domestic leagues at the same time, and many also play in the Euroleague, the current format has the virtue of limiting fixture congestion for the playoff sides.
Current season teams (2011-2012)
Country Teams Team City Venue (Capacity) Serbia 4 KK Partizan mt:s Belgrade Pionir Hall (8,150) KK Hemofarm STADA Vršac Millennium Center (5,000) KK Radnički Kragujevac Hala Jezero (4,000) KK Crvena zvezda Beograd Belgrade Pionir Hall (8,150) Slovenia 4 KK Union Olimpija Ljubljana Arena Stožice (12,480) KK Krka Novo mesto Leon Štukelj Hall (3,000) KK Helios Domžale Domžale Hala komunalnega centra Domžale (2,500) KK Zlatorog Laško Laško Tri Lilije Hall (2,500) Croatia 3 KK Cedevita Zagreb Sutinska vrela (2,000) KK Zagreb Zagreb Dražen Petrović Basketball Hall (5,400) KK Cibona (wild card) Zagreb Dražen Petrović Basketball Hall (5,400) Bosnia and Herzegovina 1 HKK Široki Široki Brijeg Pecara (capacity: 4,500) Israel 1 Maccabi Tel Aviv Tel Aviv Yad Eliyahu Arena (11,700) Montenegro 1 KK Budućnost Podgorica Morača Sports Center (5,000)
Season Champions Runner-up Final Score Finals host city Regular season winner, W-L 2001–02 Union Olimpija Krka 73 – 59 Ljubljana Union Olimpija, 20-2 2002–03 Zadar Maccabi Tel Aviv 91 – 88 Ljubljana Crvena zvezda, 16-5 (one game not played) 2003–04 Reflex Cibona 71 – 70 Zagreb Cibona, 20-6 2004–05 Hemofarm Partizan 89 – 76 Belgrade Hemofarm, 22-8 2005–06 FMP Partizan 73 – 72 Sarajevo Partizan, 20-6 2006–07 Partizan FMP 85 – 83, 94 – 82 played as home-and-away best-of-3 series FMP, 21-5 2007–08 Partizan Hemofarm 69 – 51 Ljubljana Partizan, 24-2 2008–09 Partizan Cibona 63 – 49 Belgrade Partizan, 23-3 2009–10 Partizan Cibona 75 – 74 Zagreb Cibona, 20-6 2010–11 Partizan Union Olimpija 77 – 74 Ljubljana Partizan, 18-8
- KK FMP competed under the name Reflex in 2003-04 season.
Performance by club
Team Winners Runners-up Years Won Years Runner-Up Partizan 5 2 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 2005, 2006 FMP 2 1 2004, 2006 2007 Hemofarm 1 1 2005 2008 Olimpija 1 1 2002 2011 Zadar 1 – 2003 – Cibona – 3 – 2004, 2009, 2010 Krka – 1 – 2002 Maccabi Tel Aviv – 1 – 2003 Regular season winners Titles Years Won Partizan 4 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011 Cibona 2 2004, 2010 FMP 1 2007 Hemofarm 1 2005 Crvena zvezda 1 2003 Union Olimpija 1 2002
Performance by country
Country Winners Runners-up Years Won Years Runner-Up Serbia 8 4 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 Croatia 1 3 2003 2004, 2009, 2010 Slovenia 1 2 2002 2002, 2011 Israel – 1 – 2003 Regular season winners Titles Years Won Serbia 7 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 Croatia 2 2004, 2010 Slovenia 1 2002
NLB League Awards
Season MVP Team 2001-02 Marino Baždarić Triglav osiguranje 2002-03 Kenyan Weaks Pivovarna Laško 2003-04 Dejan Milojević Budućnost 2004-05 Dejan Milojević Partizan 2005-06 Dejan Milojević Partizan 2006-07 Milan Gurović Crvena zvezda 2007-08 Tadija Dragićević Crvena zvezda 2008-09 Ante Tomić Zagreb 2009-10 Chester Mason Široki 2010-11 Luka Žorić Zagreb
NLB League Clubs
The following is a list of clubs who have played in the NLB League at any time since its formation in 2001 (as Goodyear League) to the current season. NLB League teams playing in the 2011–12 NLB League season are indicated in bold. A total of 27 teams have played in the NLB League.
Club Town or City Country Total
Seasons Highest finish Borac Nektar Banja Luka Bosnia and Herzegovina 2 2002–04 11th Bosna Sarajevo Bosnia and Herzegovina 7 2001–03, 2004–07, 2008–10 Quarter-finals Budućnost Podgorica Montenegro 9 2001–02, 2003–05, 2006– Semi-finals Cedevita Zagreb Croatia 3 2009– 7th Cibona Zagreb Croatia 11 2001– 2nd Crvena zvezda Beograd Belgrade Serbia 10 2002– Semi-finals FMP Železnik Serbia 7 2003–10 1st Geoplin Slovan Ljubljana Slovenia 6 2001–02, 2003–08 9th Helios Domžale Slovenia 7 2004–10, 2011– 8th Hemofarm Vršac Serbia 8 2004– 1st Igokea Aleksandrovac Bosnia and Herzegovina 1 2010–11 11th Krka Novo mesto Slovenia 6 2001–04, 2008–09, 2010– 2nd Lovćen Cetinje Montenegro 1 2003–04 14th Maccabi Tel Aviv Tel Aviv Israel 2 2002–03, 2011– 2nd Nymburk Nymburk Czech Republic 1 2010–11 8th Partizan Belgrade Serbia 8 2004– 1st Pivovarna Laško Slovenia 6 2001–06, 2011– Semifinals KK Radnički Kragujevac Serbia 3 2009– 10th Sloboda Dita Tuzla Bosnia and Herzegovina 1 2001–02 5th Split Split Croatia 7 2001–05, 2006–09 8th Šibenka Dalmare Šibenik Croatia 1 2004–05 11th Široki Široki Brijeg Bosnia and Herzegovina 10 2001–08, 2009– 6th Triglav osiguranje Rijeka Croatia 1 2001–02 10th Union Olimpija Ljubljana Slovenia 11 2001– 1st Vojvodina Srbijagas Novi Sad Serbia 3 2005–06, 2007–09 Quarter-finals Zadar Zadar Croatia 10 2001–11 1st Zagreb Zagreb Croatia 10 2002– 5th
NLB league records
- Highest Index Ratings in a Game
- Most Points in a Game
- Most Two Point Field Goals Made in a Game
- Most Three Point Field Goals Made in a Game
- Most Free Throws Made in a Game
- Most Rebounds in a Game
- Most Assists in a Game
- Most Steals in a Game
- Most Blocks in a Game
- Most Turnovers in a Game
Since the beginning of the 2001-02 season:
Accumulated Points Krunoslav Simon 2089 Rebounds Todor Gečevski 1060 Assists Jure Močnik 555 Steals Siniša Štemberger 267 Blocks Slavko Vraneš 268 Index Ratings Todor Gečevski 2476
Well-known basketball players who have played in the NLB League include:
- ^ Mitrović: Bogosavljev je dao ideju;Press, 11 July 2011
- ^ Jadranska liga ili samoubistvo pod obručima;NSPM, 31 December 2008
- ^ Deset godina NLB lige: Kako je Partizan gurnut u Jadran;Press, 15 July 2011
- ^ Jadranska liga donosi košarkašku REVOLUCIJU!;Slobodna Dalmacija, 28 Septembar 2001
- ^ Lisac: Jadranska liga bi propala bez Srba;Press, 23 July 2011
- ^ Deset godina NLB lige: Huligani odložili ulazak Partizana;Press, 12 July 2011
- ^ Deset godina NLB lige: Huligani odložili ulazak Partizana;Press, 12 July 2011
- ^ Deset godina Jadranske lige: Košarka nas je održala;Press, 10 July 2011
- ^ Deset godina NLB lige: Zvezdin izlazak na Jadran;Press, 13 July 2011
- ^ , adriaticbasket.info
There is mistake on official site of NLB league. Gecevski (22.27 avg Val) is named MVP for that season, because Gurovic (29.3 avg Val) was accidentally erased from the MVP list.
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