Four of the five American Basketball League teams that finished last season returned. The weak Harrisburg franchise was transferred to Wilmington. As the season began it was nearly impossible to gauge the strengths of the teams because of personnel shifts. The Trenton Tigers and the Philadelphia Sphas seemed to be the strongest on paper, but even they had serious problems. The Tigers, led by high-scoring Mike Bloom, returned with most of their squad intact, but the loss of starter Allie Esposito and key reserve Bill Zubic to military service was damaging. The Sphas lost Ossie Schectman to the Brooklyn Indians, but signed highly regarded former St.John’s University star Dutch Garfinkel as a replacement. Three-time Notre Dame All-American center Paul Nowak was also signed, but military duties limited his effectiveness. Rebounding remained a problem, and the bench was so thin that 38-year old Red Wolfe was pressed into action.
Instead of the favorites, the early season powerhouse turned out to be the resurrected Wilmington Blue Bombers who signed Ed Sadowski and Dutch Hoefer, standouts on the 1941-42 championship Bomber squad. They combined with holdovers Ben Goldfaden and Steve Juenger, from the erstwhile Harrisburg club, to form a powerful nucleus. Newcomers Angelo Musi, a standout rookie from Temple, and Paul Chaddick, a homegrown youngster who had played at St.Joseph’s, completed the important acquisitions.
Wilmington, relying on the league’s best defense, finished on top of the first-half standings followed closely by another surprise team, the New York Americans, who were led by second-year star Sonny Hertzberg. Trenton finished third, while Philadelphia and Brooklyn trailed far behind. Brooklyn dropped out before the beginning of the second half of the season, freeing half dozen veteran players to sign with other teams. Philadelphia and Trenton benefited the most. Trenton signed Bob Tough, a rugged young player out of St.John’s, but the biggest prize was Ossie Schectman. who joined Philadelphia. With Schectman guiding the offense, the Sphas captured first-place by a game over Trenton.
Philadelphia jumped out to a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven game playoffs against Wilmington. The Bombers won the fifth game at home and then surprised Philadelphia with a lopsided 57-36 win on the Sphas’ homecourt to tie the series at three games all. Moe Frankel, with 17 points, was the key to the seventh game as he led Wilmington to its third straight victory to emerge as the surprising champions of the ABL.