Pro basketball returning to Albany with new ABA team

ALBANY — The Albany Shockwave are coming to the Good Life City, and the American Basketball Association pro team will be led — and coached — by a pair of familiar faces.

At the helm in the front office, it will be Albany City Commissioner Christopher G. Pike, who confirmed to The Herald late Monday night that he will maintain his seat on the Albany City Commission while also serving as the general manager of the Shockwave.

“The team if not affiliated with the city whatsoever, so it’s fine. They’re separate entities,” Pike said. “It’s something I’m doing through my business company.”

Who will lead on the court, however, is still a mystery — although Pike did drop a hint Monday during his telephone interview with The Herald shortly after the announcement for the new ABA team in Albany was made.

“Let’s just say (our new coach) is someone you know very, very well,” Pike said, before adding with a laugh: “That’s the biggest hint I can give you before (today’s press conference). We’re trying to keep it a surprise.”

That surprise will be unveiled today during a news conference scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at the Albany Civic Center. At the same time, the team’s logo and front-office staff will also be introduced.

The Albany team will compete in the ABA’s Atlantic South Division for the upcoming season, which begins Nov. 16 in Albany against the Savannah Grizzlies. The Atlantic includes teams from Columbus, Savannah, Jacksonville, Fla., Tampa and Atlanta. The Jacksonville Giants team won the 2012 ABA National Championship, playoffs for which will begin in March 2013.

“Our Southeastern Division has had tremendous growth and should be one of the strongest of all ABA divisions next season,” ABA CEO Joe Newman, who tried but failed to put a team in Albany in 2007, said in a press release. The ABA has 90 total teams in the league, which stretches across the country.

Albany has been home to professional basketball in the past. The Albany Sharpshooters of the Global Basketball Association played in the Good Life City during the 1991-92 season, followed by the South Georgia Blues in 1992-1993.

“Albany has a very rich tradition when it comes to basketball, and we’re very excited about providing an opportunity for talented basketball players to showcase their skills in the Good Life City of Albany,” Pike said.