NLB – Adriatic Basketball League

The Adriatic Basketball League (NBL is a bank that is the league sponsor) is a regional league consisting of 14 teams from the countries of the ex-Yugoslavia. After the bitterness and violence of the seccesionist wars of the 1990’s, it is surprising this league exists. I guess it must be a testament to the power of sports to transcend these things.

All of the countries have their own regular professional leagues, and the NBL is a “Champions League” type of format. The 14 teams play each other home and away for a 28 game regular season. Serbia has 5 of the 14 teams. The two big sport clubs in Belgrade, Red Star and Partizan are represented along with FMP from the Belgrade suburb of Zelenik, Hemofarm, from the city of Vrsac near the Romanian border, and  Vojvodina “Serbia Gas” from Serbia’s second city of Novi Sad. Croatia has four teams, Slovenia three teams, and one each from Bosnia and Montenegro.

The league started in the 2001-2002 season and the number of teams has varied through the seven seasons. For one season, Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv was a member of the league. The champion of the first season was a team from Slovenia, and the second year was the Croatian team Zadar. The last 5 seasons, Serbian teams were crowned champions. Zelenik won twice, Hemofarm once, and the past two seasons the champion was Partizan, who also won the Serbian Soccer League last year.

This year they have played six games each and once again, Partizan is atop the league at 6-0. Red Star is second with a 5-1 record. The league starts in October and ends in April. Red Star American players are Andre Owens, the 6-4 guard from Indiana University played to brief seasons in the NBA and Lawrence Roberts, ex-Mississippi State star and Memphis Grizzly player. The 6-9 power forward played the last two seasons in the Greek league and is new to Red Star. Partizan features ex-UMass star Stephane Lasme, who played briefly with the Miami Heat.

I haven’t been to a game yet, but plan to. The league website is quite good.