THE year 2021 should be a busy year for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
With its coronavirus-disrupted 2020 season still in the balance, the PBA is now setting its sights on the coming year with the aim of providing first-class entertainment to the basketball fans.
One of the plans is to join the East Asia Super League (EASL), a new home-and-away league that will pit teams from China, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.
“It is already in our PBA calendar. If there’s no conflict in the schedules, the top two teams in the PBA will represent the country,” said Blackwater Elite team manager Jacob Muñez in the 9th
“Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom recently.
Muñez said Blackwater team owner Dioceldo Sy is representing the PBA in discussions with the new league.
FIBA, the world’s governing body in basketball, is supporting the new league for the next 10 years.
“Our team Blackwater is very much willing to represent the country and the PBA in this new super league. But the initial plan is to send the top two PBA teams,” explained Muñez, who was joined by Blackwater coach Nash Racela in the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Muñez assured TOPS officers and members that the PBA will send the two best teams, if and when the league decides to join.
He said PBA will field two imports each, just like the professional club teams from Chiba, Korea and Japan.
“From what I understand, there will be eight to 12 participating teams in the home-and-away tournament,” added Muñez.
Racela, for his part, said Blackwater will be ready to represent the country if the PBA decides to send the team to the EASL.
The former Far Eastern University coach said the Elite have the players who can play at the top level even during foreign competitions.
“It will be a big honor for our team (Blackwater) to play in the EASL. I am sure our owner (Sy) will be willing to accept the challenge. But the PBA will be the one to make the decision which teams to send,” said Racela.
Based in the plan, FIBA will be supporting the new league for the next 10 years.
“EASL is thrilled to receive FIBA’s support for the launch of our league,” said EASL chief executive officer Matt Beyer.
“With top teams from the Greater China region, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines, we are confident it will become one of the top professional basketball competitions in the world by 2025.”
The EASL will start with eight teams playing in the group stages that will begin in October or right after the FIBA Asia Champions Cup.
The top four teams will move on to the semifinals with the winners facing off in the finals.
Both rounds will take place in February in the following year.
FIBA secretary general Andreas Zagklis sees the EASL as beneficial for the growth of basketball, especially in East Asia.
“The recognition of the East Asia Super League is based on a shown commitment to developing basketball in the region, and is in line with FIBA’s club competition strategy that is to shape international club competitions,” Zagklis said.