Four ex-NBA coaches currently coaching in American Basketball League


american-basketball-leagueAmerica’s influence on European culture isn’t limited to fashion and Hollywood movies. Basketball continues to flourish in the northern hemisphere, and there are few places in the world where the sport is thriving as much as it is in Europe.

The competitive gap between that continent and the Americas narrows more each year, and the top professional league in that part of the world – the Euroleague – features 24 professional teams spanning Eurasia from Portugal to Russia.

Just as NBA teams have plucked talent from Europe to supplement their league, professional basketball is established enough in Europe now for teams there to look toward the U.S. for players.

The upstart American Basketball League is trying to find its niche in that market and develop players for international basketball.

The ABL’s Panama City Breeze begin their inaugural season against Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 19 at Rutherford’s Ram House, and Breeze coach Ty Fisher said his team will feature numerous players trying to rejuvenate their basketball careers.

“These are legit professional players,” Fisher said. “We want to have a couple local guys because we want to be more community-oriented. We’ll have our games at Rutherford instead of a big university. From what we’ve heard, they have a new gym built by a community company. We want to stay with that aspect of it.

“Everyone that sponsors the team, we’re not just going to take their money and put a logo on the front of the uniform. We’ll have guys out there (in the community) on a Saturday, or at a car lot. We’ll get our guys integrated in the community. No team is going to survive without a community. When you have the community behind you, there are no limits.”

According to Newsherald, Fisher said his roster will be finalized after a veteran camp Friday and Saturday in Orlando. He said the ABL, which currently is comprised of 12 teams split into two divisions, will rival the NBA Development League and feature numerous players who played college basketball in the U.S.

“We’ve got guys known from major colleges … trying to get back to the mountaintop,” Fisher said, adding that there are four ex-NBA coaches coaching in the league.

The league will implement FIBA rules, which are very similar to those used in America but not identical. Fisher, who arrived in Panama City with his wife and children from Norway two weeks ago, said the ABL will serve as a feeder program for FIBA teams in Europe and elsewhere throughout the world.

“When I was told about this league, I was very intrigued by it,” said Fisher, who said he played professionally in South America and Europe for over 10 years and coached in Europe for the last six.”

“American players come over to Europe, and it’s a different game, and they do have to adapt to it. If you saw the NBA guys in the Olympics, they had to adapt. Players come here, and we help them understand more of the game. For the European teams, that’s very appealing. They don’t have to reteach guys after they get here.”

The six teams in the ABL’s Tropics Division include six teams in Florida: Panama City, the Emerald Coast Knights (Destin), the Fort Lauderdale Sharks, the Heartland Eagles (Avon Park), the Davie Stars (Davie) and West Palm Beach Piranhas. The Lone Star Conference includes six teams from Texas: The South Texas Revolution, the Corpus Christi Clutch, the Lone Star Law, the Sugar Land Legends, the Texas Surge and Twin City United.

Following a 24-game schedule, the top two teams from each division will square off in a postseason tournament to determine the league champion.

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