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Premier Basketball League

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Premier Basketball League
Inaugural season2008
CEODennis Truax
No. of teams18
CountryUnited States
ContinentFIBA Americas (Americas)
Rochester Razorsharks (2017)
Most titlesRochester Razorsharks (7)

The Premier Basketball League, often abbreviated to the PBL, was an American professional men's basketball minor league that began play in January 2008. The league folded after the 2017 season, with The Basketball League as a successor league. In the past, there have been teams also in Canada and Puerto Rico. The league season operated from January to April.


2008 season

The PBL was formed after a number of disagreements between several former member teams of the modern American Basketball Association (ABA) and ABA CEO Joe Newman.[1] Eight of the initial ten PBL teams either played in or were slated to play in the ABA.

In early 2007, Newman was voted out of his position as CEO of the ABA by the board of directors, which included Maryland Nighthawks owner and then-ABA COO Tom Doyle (who was later a commissioner of the PBL), citing dissatisfaction with how Newman executed his duties as CEO, the large number of ABA teams that did not have the funds to operate, and high number of games when an ABA team did not show up. Newman responded by using his and other shares that formed a controlling interest to remove the entire board of directors.[2]

Newman then refused to reschedule a weather-delayed playoff game between the Rochester RazorSharks and Wilmington Sea Dawgs although the two teams agreed to a make up date, wanting instead to force Rochester to accept a forfeit.[3] It was on the heels of these two incidents that the Nighthawks and RazorSharks ownership groups decided to found the PBL.[1] Dr. Sev Hrywnak, owner of the Rochester RazorSharks, invested close to $2 million to start the PBL. The business model was structured so that teams entering the initial season did not have to pay an entrance fee of $100,00 and that all travel would be covered by the League. This would allow new teams the opportunity to have financial success from the start.

Former Houston Rockets point guard and current NBA on TNT analyst Kenny Smith was the league's first commissioner.[1]

2009 season

During the 2008 off season, six more former ABA teams decided to move to the PBL. First, on May 9, the Manchester Millrats and the 2006–2007 and 2007–2008 ABA champion Vermont Frost Heaves moved.[4] Then on May 20, the inactive Detroit Panthers re-activated and joined the league.[5] And on May 21, the Quebec Kebs joined.[6] On June 5 another team with an ABA history, the Augusta Groove, joined the league, but from the Continental Basketball Association.[7] On June 23, the Halifax Rainmen, an ABA team the previous year, announced they were also joining the PBL.[8] The first International Basketball League defection came on July 31 when the Battle Creek Knights joined the league.[9] The Rochester RazorSharks went on to win their second straight PBL title after beating the Battle Creek Knights.

2010 season

The Battle Creek Knights, the Wilmington Sea Dawgs and the Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry would not return for the 2010 season.[10] The Maryland Nighthawks changed the name of their franchise to the Maryland GreenHawks.[11] The Puerto Rico Capitanes joined the league, performing concurrently in the Baloncesto Superior Nacional.

At the end of the season, the league officially severed ties with the Buffalo Stampede, citing a failure by the team to adhere to league standards.[12] The Maryland GreenHawks were also dropped from the league.[13] The Bluegrass Stallions, another ABA team located in Kentucky, joined.[14] The league also added the expansion Dayton Air Strikers.[15]

2011 season

In January, the Vermont Frost Heaves abruptly announced the cessation of operations and their players were dispersed via a draft.[16] The Rochester RazorSharks won the league championship.

2012 season

The league approved expansion teams in Chicago and Scranton, Pennsylvania for the 2012 PBL season. Also, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Hershey, Pennsylvania, and Madison, Wisconsin were named as cities pending approval for expansion teams.[17]

On 18 July 2011, the PBL announced the Dayton Air Strikers were returning to the league for the 2012 season.[18] In addition, the Northwestern Illinois-based Sauk Valley Predators began their inaugural season in the PBL for 2012.[19] On August 22, 2011, it was announced the Charleston Gunners would be the PBL's sixth team for the 2012 season.[20] On September 15, 2011, it was announced the Northwest Indiana Stars were leaving the ABA to be the PBL's seventh team for the 2012 season.[21] On 21 September 2011 it was announced the Lake Michigan Admirals were also leaving the ABA to be the PBL's eighth team for the 2012 season.[22] On 23 September 2011 it was announced that the PBL's ninth team for the 2012 season would be the Central Illinois Drive based in Bloomington, Illinois.[23] On October 12, 2011, it was announced that the Indiana Diesels were also leaving the ABA to be the PBL's tenth team for the 2012 season.[24] On October 14, 2011, it was announced that the St. Louis Pioneers were also leaving the ABA to join the PBL, changing their name to the St. Louis Phoenix.[25]

The Central Illinois Drive won the PBL championship for 2012, defeating the Rochester RazorSharks, 101-80. The Drive was 18-1 in regular season and 22-1 total.

2013 season

During the off season the league announced it would be merging with the Independent Basketball Association to form the IBA-PBL.[26] Prior to the start of the season, the defending champions, the Central Illinois Drive, ceased operations, but were then rebooted as the Bloomington Flex.

On 24 May 2013, the six PBL teams announced that the two leagues would cease interleague play, and that the leagues would hold separate playoffs.[27] In the first round of the PBL playoffs, the Bloomington Flex beat the Indiana Diesels two games to none, and the Rochester RazorSharks beat the Sauk Valley Predators two games to none. In the finals, the Flex beat the RazorSharks two games to none to win their second consecutive title.

On 21 September 2013, the PBL announced the first of what is expected to be up to six expansion teams, with the Lima Express signing to play for the 2014 season, which will begin in January.

On 12 November 2013, the PBL announced the addition of the Pee Dee Vipers, an expansion team based in Florence, South Carolina. Three days later, the league announced that the Lake Michigan Admirals would return for 2014. On November 25, the PBL announced the addition of the Buffalo 716ers and the Erie Hurricane. In late November the Chicago Tide joined the league.

On 6 February 2014, it was announced that the newly formed Grand Rapids Cyclones would join the PBL.[28]

2014 season

Championship Series (Best 2 of 3)

Indiana Diesels(2) VS Rochester RazorSharks(1)

Away Home
Game 1 Indiana 99 Rochester 100
Game 2 Rochester 99 Indiana 103
Game 3 Indiana 86 Rochester 110

Rochester wins PBL Championship series 2 games to 1

2015 season

Several games in the 2015 season had to be postponed due to winter weather, leading to a rescheduling of games in March to ascertain that every team in the league would have played at least 15 games before the playoffs.[29] The best-of-three finals-only playoffs between Midwest Division Champions Lake Michigan Admirals and East Division Champions Rochester RazorSharks opened on March 21 in Waterlivet, Michigan, with game two set for March 28 in Rochester.[30] The Rochester RazorSharks won the 2015 PBL Championship, winning the first two games in a best-of three series against the Lake Michigan Admirals.

Championship Series (Best 2 of 3)

Lake Michigan Admirals (2) VS Rochester RazorSharks(1)

Away Home
Game 1 Rochester 122 Lake Michigan 97
Game 2 Lake Michigan 118 Rochester 135

Rochester wins PBL Championship series 2 games to 0

2016 season

Many new franchise additions occurred in the 2015 off-season including the Jamestown Jackals, Kentucky Mavericks,[31] Western New York Thundersnow, and the return of the Danville Riverhawks. Mavericks owner Jerry Nelson also become an equity partner in the PBL.[31] In addition, the PBL gained a new Southeast Conference which includes six members of the Tobacco Road Basketball League: Cary Invasion, Charlotte Elite, Durham Legacy, Huntersville HoopForLyfe, Raleigh Revolt, and the Wilmington Sea Dawgs.

Championship Series (Best 2 of 3)

Lake Michigan Admirals (3) VS Rochester RazorSharks(1)

Away Home
Game 1 Rochester 97 Lake Michigan 91
Game 2 Lake Michigan 92 Rochester 93

Rochester wins PBL Championship series 2 games to 0

2017 season

Championship Series (Best 2 of 3)

Kentucky Mavericks(2) VS Rochester RazorSharks(1)

Away Home
Game 1 Rochester 88 Kentucky 91
Game 2 (OT) Kentucky 110 Rochester 112
Game 3 Kentucky 94 Rochester 95

Rochester wins PBL Championship series 2 games to 1


Teams when league folded

Team City Arena
Chautauqua Hurricane Fredonia, New York SUNY Fredonia
DuBois Dream DuBois, Pennsylvania Central Catholic High School
Jamestown Jackals Jamestown, New York Jamestown Community College
Ohio Bootleggers Westerville, Ohio Rike Center
Washington Warhawks Warrenton, Virginia Highland School

History of teams


Year Champion Runner-up Result
2008 Rochester RazorSharks Arkansas Impact 142-112
2009 Rochester RazorSharks Battle Creek Knights 152-115
2010 Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry Rochester RazorSharks 2-1 (best-of 3)
2011 Rochester RazorSharks Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry 2-1 (best-of 3)
2012 Central Illinois Drive Rochester RazorSharks 2-0 (best-of 3)
2013 Bloomington Flex Rochester RazorSharks 2-0 (best-of 3)
2014 Rochester RazorSharks Indianapolis Diesels 2-1 (best-of 3)
2015 Rochester RazorSharks Lake Michigan Admirals 2-0 (best-of 3)
2016 Rochester RazorSharks Lake Michigan Admirals 2-0 (best-of 3)
2017 Rochester RazorSharks Kentucky Mavericks 2-1 (best of 3)


Season MVP Playoffs MVP Coach of the Year
2008 Jeremy Bell, Arkansas Impact Keith Friel, Rochester RazorSharks Rod Baker, Rochester RazorSharks
2009 Keith Friel, Rochester RazorSharks Keith Friel and Sammy Monroe, Rochester RazorSharks Rod Baker, Rochester RazorSharks and Terry Sare, Battle Creek Knights
2010 DeAnthony Bowden, Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry Elvin Mims, Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry Micheal Ray Richardson, Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalr
2011 Quinnel Brown, Quebec Kebs Melvin Council, Rochester RazorSharks Rob Spon, Quebec Kebs
2012 Perry Petty, Central Illinois Drive Perry Petty, Central Illinois Drive A. J. Guyton, Central Illinois Drive
2013 Jemal Farmer, Bloomington Flex Jemal Farmer, Bloomington Flex A. J. Guyton, Bloomington Flex
2014 Bryant Austin, Lima Express Jerice Crouch Rochester RazorSharks Aaron Hogg, Indianapolis Diesels
2015 Courtney Blackmore, Lake Michigan Admirals Corey Allmond and Jerice Crouch, Rochester RazorSharks Rob Spon, Rochester RazorSharks
2016 TBA Melvin Council, Rochester RazorSharks TBA

Sixth Man of the Year

  • 2009: Alex Harper, Wilmington Sea Dawgs
  • 2010: Melvin Council, Rochester RazorSharks
  • 2011: Eddie Smith, Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry
  • 2012: Rodney Edgerson, Central Illinois Drive
  • 2013: Darin Mency, Rochester RazorSharks
  • 2014: John Hart, Indianapolis Diesels
  • 2015: Kyle Meyer, Lima Express
  • 2016: Melvin Council, Rochester RazorSharks

Defensive Player of the Year

  • 2009: Jonas Pierre, Quebec Kebs and Al Stewart, Manchester Millrats
  • 2010: Eric Crookshank, Halifax Rainmen
  • 2011: Eric Crookshank, Halifax Rainmen
  • 2012: Marcel Anderson, Chicago Muscle
  • 2013: Nate Fuqua, Bloomington Flex
  • 2014: Courtney Blackmore, Lake Michigan Admirals
  • 2015: Troy Franklin, Lake Michigan Admirals

Rookie of the Year

  • 2010: Eric Gilchrese, Manchester Millrats & Halifax Rainmen
  • 2011: Todd McCoy, Rochester RazorSharks
  • 2012:
  • 2013: Josiah Whitehead, Bloomington Flex
  • 2014: Jamaal Francis, Lynchburg Titans
  • 2015: Josh Chichester, Grand Rapids Cyclones
  • 2016: Michael Davenport, Jamestown Jackals


  1. ^ a b c Rao, Chay (2008-01-02), Nighthawks prep for New Year, new league, Gazette.Net, retrieved 2008-01-15
  2. ^ United States Securities And Exchange Commission Form 8-K, 2007-01-31, retrieved 2008-05-21
  3. ^ George, Rachel (2007-03-24), Sea Dawgs are unlikely hosts, Wilmington Star News, retrieved 2008-05-21
  4. ^ Premier Basketball League Welcomes Vermont Frost Heaves And Manchester Millrats, Our Sports Central, 2008-05-09, retrieved 2008-05-09
  5. ^ Detroit Panthers Join Premier Basketball League, Our Sports Central, 2008-05-20, retrieved 2008-05-20
  6. ^ Quebec Kebs Join Premier Basketball League, Our Sports Central, 2008-05-21, retrieved 2008-05-21
  7. ^ Premier Basketball League Welcomes Augusta Groove, Our Sports Central, 2008-06-05, retrieved 2008-06-05
  8. ^ Rainmen to join Premier Basketball League, Halifax Metro.Ca, 2008-06-23, archived from the original on 2009-02-12, retrieved 2008-06-23
  9. ^ Premier Basketball League Welcomes Battle Creek Knights, Our Sports Central, 2008-07-31, retrieved 2008-07-31
  10. ^ Krieger, Dan (2009-08-24), Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report, Our Sports Central, retrieved 2009-10-18
  11. ^, 2009-10-26, retrieved 2009-10-26
  12. ^ Premier Basketball League Reorganizes, Our Sports Central, 2010-05-24, retrieved 2010-05-24
  13. ^ Freeman, Brian (2010-07-03), PBL looking to add Puerto Rican teams to league, Halifax Chronicle Herald, retrieved 2010-07-13
  14. ^ Matthews, Bob (2010-08-10), Mike Ryba also an amazing Red Wing, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, retrieved 2010-08-10
  15. ^ PBL Welcomes New Team, Our Sports Central, 2010-09-15, retrieved 2010-09-15
  16. ^ Vermont Frost Heaves hoops team folds, Burlington Free Press, 2011-01-26, retrieved 2011-01-26[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Mandelaro, Jim (2011-04-20), Razorsharks' league announces changes for 2012, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, retrieved 2011-04-23
  18. ^ Foltz, Chris (2011-07-18), Dayton Air Strikers return for the Premier Basketball League’s 2012 Season, Premier Basketball League, archived from the original on 2011-07-23, retrieved 2011-09-16
  19. ^ Foltz, Chris (2011-07-25), Premier Basketball League Welcomes the Sauk Valley Predators to the 2012 Season, Premier Basketball League, archived from the original on 2012-03-26, retrieved 2011-09-16
  20. ^ Charleston Gunners Join Premier Basketball League for 2012 Season, Our Sports Central, 2011-08-23, retrieved 2011-09-16
  21. ^ Northwest Indiana Stars Leave the American Basketball Association to Join the Premier Basketball League for Their Upcoming 2012 Season, PR Newswire, 2011-09-15, retrieved 2011-09-16
  22. ^ Lake Michigan Admirals and Fans Excited About Joining the Premier Basketball League in 2012, Premier Basketball League, 2011-09-21, archived from the original on 2011-09-26, retrieved 2011-09-23
  23. ^ The Premier Basketball League Adds Bloomington, Illinois Team for 2012, Premier Basketball League, 2011-09-23, archived from the original on 2011-09-26, retrieved 2011-09-23
  24. ^ Indiana Diesels Join the Premier Basketball League (PBL) for Their Upcoming 2012 Season, Premier Basketball League, 2011-10-12, archived from the original on 2011-11-16, retrieved 2011-10-12
  25. ^ The Premier Basketball League Welcomes the St. Louis Phoenix for the 2012 Season, Premier Basketball League, 2011-10-14, archived from the original on 2011-11-09, retrieved 2011-10-14
  26. ^ [1] Archived December 31, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ "IBA-PBL Merger Has Ended". 2013-05-24. Archived from the original on 2016-01-20. Retrieved 2013-09-04.
  28. ^ "GR gets new professional basketball team". WoodTV. 6 February 2014.
  29. ^ "Vipers to play ABA team, not RazorSharks". Morning News. March 5, 2015.
  30. ^ "Admirals, LMC Lady Red Hawks excited about post-season". Mail Max. 10 March 2015.
  31. ^ a b "Shreveport-Bossier Mavs leave ABA, join PBL". Shreveport Times. 9 June 2015.

External links