ABA League

  (Redirected from Adriatic League)

The ABA League, renamed to the ABA League First Division in 2017, is the 1st-tier regional men's professional basketball league that originally 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, and as the NLB League from 2006 to 2011.

ABA League
ABA League.png
Founded2001; 20 years ago (2001)
First season2001–02
Other club(s) from
ConfederationFIBA Europe (Europe)
Number of teams14
Level on pyramid1st
Relegation toABA Second Division
SupercupABA Super Cup
International cup(s)
Current championsSerbia Crvena zvezda (4th title)
Most championshipsSerbia Partizan (6 titles)
TV partnersArena Sport, TV B92
2020–21 season

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, founded in 2001 and run until 2015 by the Sidro, a Slovenian limited liability company. Since 2015, the league has been operated by ABA League JTD, a 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.


At various points throughout mid-to-late 1990s, in the years following the breakup of SFR Yugoslavia and ensuing Yugoslav Wars, different basketball administrators from the newly independent Balkan states floated and informally discussed the idea of re-assembling a joint basketball competition to fill the void left by the dissolution of the former Yugoslav Basketball League whose last season was 1991–92.[1]

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 thereby opening an organizational split in European club basketball. 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.[citation needed]

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's 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.[2] 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 Yugoslav league are not the same thing.[3][4]

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 Crvena zvezda 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 Crvena zvezda and Partizan in the league was there from the very beginning, but we avoided talking about it publicly because of politics.[5]

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.

Debut seasonEdit

With twelve clubs taking part in the inaugural 2001–02 season, the competition commenced in fall 2001 with four teams from Slovenia, four teams from Croatia, three teams from Bosnia-Herzegovina, and one team from FR Yugoslavia. The very first game was contested in Ljubljana between Olimpija and Široki on Saturday, 29 September 2001 at 5:30pm.[6]

Though the competition purported to gather the strongest sides from former Yugoslavia, as mentioned, teams from Serbia were noticeably absent, particularly Belgrade powerhouses and biggest regional crowd draws Partizan and Crvena zvezda. 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.[6]

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.[7]

Second seasonEdit

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, Budućnost, Triglav, and Geoplin Slovan) to be replaced by: Israeli powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv, Crvena zvezda (the first team from Serbia in the competition), the Bosnian outfit KK Borac, and Croatian club KK Zagreb.

It was important for the league's long-term business to negotiate 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.[8] The offer was flatly rejected initially by the representatives of five YUBA Liga clubs – Partizan, Crvena zvezda, 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 Crvena zvezda's management (three businessmen close to the ruling Democratic Party in Serbia: 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.[8]


Competition systemEdit

As of the 2013–14 season the league comprises a 26-game regular season, with the top 4 sides making the play-offs.[9]

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.

In 2017, the ABA League Second Division was created. The last qualified team from ABA League would be relegated to the Second Division and replaced by the winner of this one.

Current clubsEdit

The following 14 clubs are competing in the 2020–21 ABA season:[10]

  Borac   Buducnost   Cedevita Olimpija   Cibona
  Crvena Zvezda   FMP   Igokea   Koper Primorska
  Krka   Mega Bemax   Mornar Bar   Partizan NIS
  Split   Zadar


Year Final Semifinalists
Champions Score Runners-up
Union Olimpija
Pivovarna Laško
Cibona VIP
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
Crvena zvezda
Union Olimpija
Cibona VIP
Crvena zvezda
Union Olimpija
Partizan Pivara MB
Crvena zvezda
Partizan Pivara MB
Crvena zvezda
Cibona VIP
Partizan Igokea
Union Olimpija
Partizan Igokea
Cibona VIP
Crvena zvezda
75–74 (OT)  
Cibona VIP
Union Olimpija
Union Olimpija
Budućnost m:tel
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv
Budućnost VOLI
Partizan mt:s
Partizan mt:s
Crvena zvezda Telekom
Radnički Kragujevac
Crvena zvezda Telekom
Crvena zvezda Telekom
Partizan NIS
Budućnost VOLI
Crvena zvezda Telekom
Mega Leks
Budućnost VOLI
Crvena zvezda mts
Budućnost VOLI
Partizan NIS
Budućnost VOLI
Crvena zvezda mts
Crvena zvezda mts
Budućnost VOLI
Partizan NIS
Canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic - no champion announced


By clubEdit

Rank Club Titles Runner-up Champion Years
1.   Partizan 6 2 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13
2.   Crvena zvezda 4 2 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2018–19
3.   FMP 2 1 2003–04, 2005–06
4.   Cibona 1 3 2013–14
5.   Olimpija 1 1 2001–02
6.   Vršac 1 1 2004–05
7.   Maccabi Tel Aviv 1 1 2011–12
8.   Budućnost 1 1 2017–18
9.   Zadar 1 2002–03
10.   Cedevita 4
11.   Krka 1
12.   Mega Basket 1

By countryEdit

Rank Country Titles Runners-up
1.   Serbia 10 5
2.   Serbia and Montenegro 3 2
3.   Croatia 2 7
4.   Slovenia 1 2
5.   Israel 1 1
6.   Montenegro 1 1

All-time participantsEdit

The following is a list of clubs who have played in the Adriatic League at any time since its formation in 2001 to the current season. A total of 40 teams from 10 countries have played in the League.[citation needed]

2D Played in the Second Division
Canceled Season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Defunct Defunct teams
Restricted Teams out of the Adriatic area
Suspended Suspended teams
1st Champions
2nd Runners-up
SF Semi-finalists
Bold Teams playing in the 2020–21 season
R Regular season champions
Team 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20[a] 21 Total
  Borac Banja Luka 11th 13th 2 11th
  Bosna 12th 12th QF QF 10th 7th 13th 2D 7 Quarter-finals
  Igokea 11th SFR 6th 12th 9th 5th 10th 8th Cn. TBD 10 Semi-finals
  Sloboda Tuzla 5th 2D 1 5th
  Široki 6th 9th 12th 13th 11th 11th 12th 10th 9th 5th 10th 14th 2D 2D 12 5th
  Levski Sofia 14th Restricted 1 14th
  Cedevita 7th 7th 2nd 6th 2nd 2nd SF 2nd SF SF 10 2nd
  Cibona SF 5th 2ndR QF QF SF QF 2nd 2ndR 12th 7th 11th 1st 11th 8th 7th 11th 7th Cn. TBD 20 1st
  Split 8th 10th 9th 15th 14th 10th 10th 14th 2D 2D 2D TBD 9 8th
  Šibenik 11th Defunct 1 11th
  Triglav Osiguranje 10th Defunct 1 10th
  Zadar 7th 1st 8th QF QF 7th SF 5th 8th 14th 12th 13th 8th 6th 12th 6th 11th Cn. TBD 19 1st
  Zagreb 6th 11th 12th 13th 12th 11th 13th 6th 5th 9th - Defunct 10 5th
  Nymburk 8th Restricted 1 8th
  Szolnoki Olaj 13th 12th 7th Restricted 3 7th
  Maccabi Tel Aviv 2nd 1stR Restricted 2 1st
  Budućnost 9th 5th 14th 5th QF 6th 5th SF SF 5th 5th SF SFR SF 1st 2nd Cn. TBD 18 1st
  Lovćen 14th 2D 2D 2D 2D 1 14th
  Mornar 8th SF 9th Cn. TBD 5 Semi-finals
  Sutjeska 13th 2D 2D 2D 1 13th
  Karpoš Sokoli 10th Suspended[b] 1 10th
  MZT Skopje 7th 9th 13th 10th 13th 12th 2D 2D 2D 6 7th
  Borac Čačak 2D 2D 2D TBD 1
  Crvena zvezda SFR SF SF SF 6th QF SF 9th 13th 10th 2nd SFR 1stR 1st 1stR 2ndR 1stR Cn. TBD 19 1st
  FMP 9th 8th 6th Cn. TBD 5 6th
  FMP Železnik 1st SF 1st 2ndR QF 8th 12th Defunct 7 1st
  Mega 8th 10th 2nd 6th 9th 5th Cn. TBD 8 2nd
  Metalac Valjevo 6th 11th 2 6th
  Partizan 2nd 2ndR 1st 1stR 1stR 1st 1stR SF 1st SF SF 5th SF 5th SF Cn. TBD 17 1st
  Radnički Kragujevac 11th 10th 8th SF 11th Defunct 5 Semi-finals
  Vojvodina Srbijagas QF 9th 14th Defunct 3 Quarter-finals
  Vršac 1stR SF SF 2nd SF SF 6th 12th 2D 2D 8 1st
  Cedevita Olimpija Unfounded Cn. TBD 2
  Helios Suns 16th 12th 8th 13th 12th 14th 13th 2D 2D 2D 7 8th
  Koper Primorska Unfounded 2D 2D Cn. 14th 2 14th
  Krka 2nd 7th 7th 11th SF 11th 9th 7th 9th 12th 14th 2D 10th Cn. TBD 14 2nd
  Olimpija 1stR SF SF QF 10th 9th SF 9th SF 2nd 6th 8th 10th 5th 7th 11th 7th 12th Defunct 18 1st
  Slovan 11th 10th 10th 9th 13th 14th 6 9th
  Tajfun 14th 1 14th
  Zlatorog Laško SF 8th 6th 9th 14th 14th 6 Semi-finals






All-time leadersEdit

From the 2001–02 to the 2020–21 season:

Points   Nemanja Gordić[12] 2,855[c]
Field goals   Marin Rozić[13] 1,052[d]
3 Points   Siniša Štemberger[14] 403[e]
Defensive Rebounds   Marin Rozić[15] 1,032[f]
Total Rebounds   Marin Rozić[16] 1,323[g]
Assists   Nemanja Gordić[15] 909[f]
Steals   Nebojša Joksimović 355
Blocks   Slavko Vraneš[17] 272[h]
Index Ratings   Todor Gečevski 3,212
Games Played   Marin Rozić[18] 377[i]

Notable playersEdit

Well-known basketball players who have played in the Adriatic League include:[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Season was canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic
  2. ^ Team is suspended until 2022
  3. ^ Updated 4 October 2020
  4. ^ Updated 30 October 2020
  5. ^ Updated 6 January 2020
  6. ^ a b Updated 29 January 2020
  7. ^ Updated 10 February 2020
  8. ^ Updated 23 January 2020
  9. ^ Updated 20 October 2020


  1. ^ Mitrović: Bogosavljev je dao ideju;Press, 11 July 2011
  2. ^ Jadranska liga ili samoubistvo pod obručima;NSPM, 31 December 2008
  3. ^ Deset godina NLB lige: Kako je Partizan gurnut u Jadran;Press, 15 July 2011
  4. ^ Bibić, Milorad (28 September 2001). "Jadranska liga donosi košarkašku REVOLUCIJU!". Slobodna Dalmacija. Archived from the original on 2 August 2017. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  5. ^ Lisac: Jadranska liga bi propala bez Srba;Press, 23 July 2011
  6. ^ a b Deset godina NLB lige: Huligani odložili ulazak Partizana;Press, 12 July 2011
  7. ^ Deset godina Jadranske lige: Košarka nas je održala;Press, 10 July 2011
  8. ^ a b Deset godina NLB lige: Zvezdin izlazak na Jadran;Press, 13 July 2011
  9. ^ "ADRIATIC LEAGUE – Players showing off World Cup credentials". FIBA. 10 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  10. ^ "Conclusions of the ABA League j.t.d. Assembly". aba-liga.com. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  11. ^ "ABA League – interesting facts and figures". abaliga.com. Archived from the original on 2 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  12. ^ "The ABA League Top Points". ABA League oficiall twitter profile. 4 October 2020.
  13. ^ "The World of Stats: Nemanja Gordić joins the 1,000 FG Made club". aba-liga.com. 30 October 2020.
  14. ^ "The World of Stats - Suad Šehović eying the top place on the ABA All-Time 3-point list". aba-liga.com. 8 January 2020.
  15. ^ a b "The World of Stats: Marin Rozić - The ABA League Top Rebounder". aba-liga.com. 29 January 2020.
  16. ^ "ABA All time rebounds". aba-liga.com. 10 February 2020.
  17. ^ "The World of Stats - Uroš Luković joined the 200+ Blocks club". aba-liga.com. 23 January 2020.
  18. ^ "Most apps". twitter.com. 20 October 2020.

External linksEdit