The PBA Board of Governors, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, PBA legal counsel Melvin Mendoza and PBA marketing head Gelo Serrano with East Asia League CEO Matt Beyer and East Asia League CFO Henry Kerins.
PBA to study East Asia League invite
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - March 23, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A first prize of $1 Million awaits the winner of the 8-team East Asia Super League which is calendared to reel off in September next year and slots are allotted for two PBA teams to join the home-and-away tournament that features a “low-impact” schedule of a game a month.

East Asia Super League CEO Matt Beyer and CFO Henry Kerins invited the PBA to participate in the project during a dinner they hosted for the PBA Board of Governors, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, PBA legal counsel Melvin Mendoza and PBA marketing head Gelo Serrano at the Marriott Hotel in Shenzhen last weekend. The Board and PBA officials were in the Chinese city to attend the FIBA World Cup draw.

Beyer said two slots will be available for the PBA, Japan, China and South Korea. After the eliminations, the top four finishers will battle in the semifinals then final in Macau. The second prize is $500,000 and the third, $250,000. Rules will allow two imports in each roster and they may play at the same time. There will be no restrictions on heritage players, including Fil-foreigners.

Beyer and Kerins, both Americans, broke ground with a five-day tournament called Summer Super 8 in Macau in 2017 and repeated last year with PBA teams NLEX and Blackwater participating. No imports were allowed in the Summer Super 8. The first edition was won by Japan’s Chiba Jets and the second by China’s Guangzhou Long Lions. Beyer and Kerins introduced another five-day tournament called Terrific 12 in Macau last year, this time with imports. The Philippines was represented by a PBA D-League selection called the iECO Green Warriors. Japan’s Ryukyu Golden Kings bagged the Terrific 12 crown.

This year, Beyer and Kerins will stage the Terrific 12 in Macau on Sept. 17-22. Three PBA teams were invited to join.  Slots are also being set aside for three teams from China, two from Japan and South Korea and one from Chinese-Taipei. The prizes are $150,000 for the winner, $100,000 for the runner-up and $50,000 for the third placer. Each team will be allowed to play two imports.      

Beyer said the prize money provides an incentive for the teams to take the games seriously. “The Terrific 12 is like a pre-season competition for clubs preparing to play in their leagues,” he said. “Our goals are to develop the game and give players an opportunity to enhance their skills by competing against foreign teams. The Macau government is supporting us with the intention of creating sporting events, primarily in basketball and football, to entertain fans. For the competing teams, it’s also a chance to test imports trying out in different leagues.”

PBA chairman Ricky Vargas said the Board will await the formal proposal to join the Terrific 12 and the East Asia Super League. Marcial said the PBA will be on break during the Terrific 12 tournament so the window is open for participation. How to fit the East Asia Super League games in next year’s PBA schedule will be studied.

Beyer, 34, traveled to China when he was 17, fascinated by the home country of the two Chinese children adopted by his parents in Wisconsin. He took up Chinese studies and journalism at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and now lives in Hong Kong. Beyer played basketball in high school where his coach was former NBA player Jon McGlocklin. 

Kerins, 32, was born in Tokyo where his father worked in finance and his mother was a teacher. He moved to Hong Kong when he was two and has lived his entire life in Asia except for two years in the US. Kerins is fluent in Mandarin and earned a mechanical engineering degree with a special interest in drone automation in Beijing. He lives in Hong Kong. 

Kerins said he’s impressed by the development of basketball in Japan. “The quality of the game has improved and I think the growth of the Japanese league is phenomenal with the potential to get even bigger.” Japan is making a strong push to elevate its basketball program with the national team guaranteed to play at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. At the recent FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, Japan won its last eight games over four windows to easily make it among the 32 countries competing in the China conclave on Aug. 31-Sept. 15.

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