3 minute read

The newly-launched East Asia Super League, which tips off in Oct. 2022 and will feature top teams from Philippines, Japan, South Korea and Greater China, has set its sights on the lofty target of being among the world’s top three basketball competitions by 2025.

Previously a pre-season tournament that started with The Super 8 before expanding to The Terrific 12, the EASL announced today an evolution — approved by the sport’s international governing body FIBA — that will feature a football-style Champions League competition fully integrated with the domestic calendars of the respective nations involved.

The first season set to begin next October will feature eight teams: the champions and runners-up of the previous season from the Philippines’ PBA, the Japanese B1 League, the Korean Basketball League, the top-ranked side from Chinese Taipei’s P.League+, as well as a franchise team representing Hong Kong – the Bay Area Chun Yu Phoenixes.

“We really believe, given the demographics we cover and market trends, that we’re going to be one of the top three leagues in the world by audience size and commercial revenue by 2025,” EASL CEO Matt Beyer told ESPN. “It’s ambitious but it’s achievable and we’re excited to do it. We really want to be a league for Asian fans, media companies and sponsors, that is offering a premium product in primetime.”

The EASL plans to increase the size of the competition to 16 teams by Season 3, with a large part of that expansion to come from mainland China, while Macau could also feature in a similar franchise concept to Hong Kong’s Bay Area Chun Yu Phoenixes.

While the battle for nationalistic pride in basketball has traditionally been reserved for the international stage, Geyer is excited by the prospect of such rivalry being replicated with more regularity through the EASL.

“From the perspective of a fan of the sport in Asia, I observed the hierarchy of interest in the sport,” Beyer said. “At the top is always the national team games with regional rivalries. Fans go crazy when they come up against a neighboring country and want to see how their own perform. Then there’s the NBA and then the domestic leagues.

We really want to take that fervor for those national team games and transfer that into a club competition, so you can get those regional rivalries not every two to three years but on a weekly basis.”

A similar concept albeit one encompassing a different region has been in existence since 2009 in the form of the ASEAN Basketball League, which also boasted teams from Philippines, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei among others. One issue the ABL has faced, especially in the basketball-mad nation of Philippines, is that it exists outside of the domestic PBA ecosystem, something the EASL will not have to worry about.

“We’re going straight to the top of the PBA, where the top talent in Philippines congregates,” Beyer said. “It’s really important for us to have these win-win partnerships with all the leagues involved.”

01. Dec 2021

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