My family and I have enjoyed following the exciting inaugural season of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), rooting fervently for the KL Dragons. All the games we’ve seen have been fiercely contested and competitive. Since the beginning of the season the Dragons have really developed team chemistry, balancing some dead-eyed outside shooters with great ball-handlers who slash fearlessly to the basket. Moreover, the game-time experience and stadium atmosphere are electric, with packed crowds of Malaysians and foreign fans joining together to cheer for the teams, participate in half-time fan giveaways, and enjoy entertainment like guest singers from Malaysian Idol. Finally, the players themselves are friendly and make themselves available for pictures and chats with the fans.

As I’ve followed the ABL, I want to highlight the partnerships of American companies like GE to support the league and basketball in Malaysia. After Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, Chairman of the ABL, announced the creation of the first international basketball league in Southeast Asia, GE stepped up as the ABL’s title sponsor for the 2009/10 season running from October to February. This sponsorship has provided an invaluable boost to the ABL and to the development of young basketball talent in the region. GE’s involvement with the ABL is a great example of how American companies in Malaysia are giving back to the community.  GE’s league sponsorship is most appropriate from my point of view as this concept, carried out in the sports world in this case, is entirely consistent with the broader effort to build a market of 550-600 million people in Southeast Asia.  Southeast Asian nations really make their mark on the world stage when they speak and act cohesively.  The ABL is just one more way in which the entrepreneurial leaders in Malaysia are helping to build a genuine sense of Southeast Asian community.  My hat is off to all those who conceived and implemented the idea of an ABL.  Go Dragons!

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