In the American Basketball League’s annual game of musical franchises, the Washington club transferred to Harrisburg, Pa. and defending-champion Wilmington, which lost the use of its playing site to the military, was forced to transfer to Camden, New Jersey. In New York, Eddie Wilde revived the Jewels after a one-year absence. The holdover teams in Philadelphia and Trenton were the only financially viable franchises. After a few weeks of sparse attendance elsewhere, almost all of the remaining games of the season were played in these two cities.
The Trenton roster, still untouched by the war, was talented and more even more importantly –- stable. The Tigers had five solid performers including two tall, mobile centers, Mike Bloom and Bill Zubic, two steady guards, Herbie Gershon and Allie Esposito, and an excellent swingman in Fordham rookie Dick Fitzgerald. The Tigers, by substituting freely and moving the ball well, ran off to eleven wins in thirteen games to quickly wrap up first place. Philadelphia, with its ranks thinned by the war, finished a distant second. The Sphas lost their starting backcourt, Ossie Schectman and Pete Rosenberg, to the military. Veteran Red Rosen and 5’7″ Villanova rookie Red Klotz filled in as best they could. Irv Torgoff and Inky Lautman remained formidable combination up front, but a lack a height handicapped team rebounding.
The remaining three clubs, Camden, Harrisburg, and New York were strictly window-dressing. Honey Russell’s Camden Indians were the biggest disappointment. Virtually intact from last year’s Wilmington-based championship team, the Indians won three of their first four games, but were winless the remainder of the abbreviated season. A mid-January shift of the team to Brooklyn did nothing to ebb the flow of defeats. Big Ed Sadowski remained the league’s dominate center and Chick Reiser performed admirably up front, but the team was saddled with the league’s worst defense. The new Harrisburg club, coached by ex-Celtic great Dutch Dehnert, was stocked with a collection of frayed ABL veterans. Steve Juenger, a former Temple University player had who performed without distinction for five seasons in the minors, emerged as the key performer and went on to lead the league in scoring. Eddie Wilde’s New York Jewels were little more than a punching bag, despite the enthusiastic play of talented rookies Sonny Hertzberg of NYU and Bobby Holm of Seton Hall.
When the regular-season race turned out to be lopsided, league president John O’Brien abbreviated the season by lopping off the last three weeks of the schedule, and moving right into the playoffs. Trenton and Philadelphia split the first six games of the best-of-seven game playoff for the league championship. The deciding seventh game was played in Philadelphia before a packed house of 4,000 fans at the Sphas’ Broadwood Hotel court. Irv Torgoff swished a seventy-foot heave through the net as the buzzer went off ending the second period to give Philadelphia a 25-24 lead. The Sphas built the lead up to seven points in the third and final period before Trenton rallied to get within a point in the final seconds of the contest. A Sphas’ free-throw, however, sealed the Tigers’ fate. Philadelphia was the ABL champion for the sixth time in ten years.