By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
What do you get when you mix FIBA’s seal, former NBA players as investors, and the vast East Asia market? The answer is simple, as a new league that can be considered an alternative to Europe especially for top US import talent was presented officially today.
The East Asia Super League (EASL) has announced the format of its inaugural home-and-away season pan-regional format, beginning October 2022, with eight teams from the Japan B.LEAGUE, Korea KBL, Philippines PBA, and the Chinese Taipei P. LEAGUE+, as well as a top team the league is seeding in Hong Kong SAR, featuring players from Mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Chinese Taipei.
With the Chinese CBA still not fully recovered from the COVID crisis, the East Asia Super League creates a fertile ground for the development of the sport in Asia. And it’s easy to understand why former NBA player Baron Davis (photo), Metta World Peace, and Shane Battier are among the initial investors in this private league which will act as the East Asian version of FIBA’s Basketball Champions League.
There’s a ten-year agreement with FIBA, granting recognition. EASL has formed East Asia’s first club league to determine the region’s champion, which will win $1 million in title money. Sounds familiar?
“In line with the global FIBA strategic objective to shape international competitions, the FIBA Executive Committee has backed the formation of East Asia Super League. The smooth and professional cooperation during the past several years between EASL and our Regional Office Asia as well as with our National Federations and Leagues in the region, has paved the way to recognize this dynamic competition platform, that will fit well with FIBA’s club properties in Asia and worldwide,” said FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis.
That’s a plan which is based on numbers. Per the league’s official press release: “EASL has built large momentum going into Season 1 of home-and-away competition following four successful single-site invitational tournaments hosted in Macau SAR between 2017 and 2019. EASL’s last weeklong tournament, The Terrific 12, in September 2019 experienced a 117 million viewership and a sold-out arena daily”.
“EASL is honored to be the hub of East Asian basketball, bringing the best of the best of the region’s club teams together in an elite competition, supported by long-term agreements with FIBA and Asia’s top leagues,” said EASL CEO Matt Beyer. “Our mission is to be East Asia’s premier basketball league, with a vision to be one of the top three leagues globally by 2025 in terms of fan base and commercial revenue.”
For starters, the league will begin in October 2022 in a two-group round-robin format of eight teams, which will field a 12-man roster with two foreign players and an additional Asian player.
The champions and runners-up from the previous Japan B.LEAGUE, Korea KBL, and Philippines PBA seasons will qualify to compete in EASL. The newly formed with the support of the Hong Kong Basketball Association Bay Area Chun Yu Phoenixes and the championship team from Chinese Taipei’s P.LEAGUE+ will be the Greater China representatives.
The top two teams in the standings from each group will advance to the Final Four which will be held on March 2023.
According to the plan, the league will expand to 16 teams in the 2024-25 season in order to include new regions and additional leagues.
While the NBA is not involved yet, there’s a distinct NBA flavor in the project. Per the press release: “EASL has received buy ins from some of basketball’s most established statesmen, securing investment, as well as brand ambassadors and strategic advisory support from NBA stars Baron Davis, Metta World Peace, and Shane Battier, as well as top sports industry businesspeople, including NBA agent Bill Duffy, and blue-chip institutional sports-focused funds, including The Raine Group, as well as Asia’s top family offices and high net worth individuals”.