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Sports

EASL final in Manila?

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

With travel restrictions still imposed in Macau, it appears likely that the EASL Final Four will be held in Manila in March next year. EASL CEO Matt Beyer raised the possibility during the inaugural seasons grouping ceremony at the Shangri-La Fort, BGC, the other day.

EASL held its first-ever event, the Super Eight, in Macau in 2017 with teams from Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China. The Chiba Jets of the Japanese B.League took the title. In 2018, EASL unraveled the second Super Eight, this time with the participation of PBA teams NLEX and Blackwater. The Guangzhou Loong Lions wound up on top of the standings. That same year, EASL put up another tournament called the Terrific 12 featuring 12 teams with the Ryukyu Golden Kings of Japan claiming the crown. In 2019, the second Terrific 12 was rolled out with PBA teams TNT, San Miguel Beer and Blackwater participating. The Liaoning Flying Leopards, starring NBA veteran Lance Stephenson, bagged the championship with the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions finishing second and San Miguel third. The four tournaments were staged in Macau and the plan was to hold the inaugural seasons Final Four also in Macau.

The escalation of viewership from the first EASL competition to the fourth has been remarkable, increasing from 21 million in 2017 to 64 million in 2018 to 117 million in 2019. The encouraging numbers prompted Beyer to conceptualize the establishment of a full-blown season with the goal of “creating the premier basketball league and entertainment experience in East Asia to elevate the game in the region.” Beyers vision is for EASL to become one of the worlds top three professional basketball leagues by 2025 in terms of fan base size and commercial revenue.

The first and second EASL seasons will gather eight teams. There will be 28 total games in the calendar, including the final. Games will be played on a home-and-away basis starting Oct. 12 for the first season. Each team plays three home and three away contests in the eliminations before the start of the Final Four. An appearance fee of $20,000 is given to each team in every game with the winner awarded a $20,000 bonus. Aside from the $1 million first prize, EASL will reward the runner-up with $500,000 and the third placer, $250,000. In the third season, the league will expand to 16 teams to play 52 total games. The expectation is 230 million viewers will follow the first season then 355 million the second and 689 million the third. EASL has set media platforms in place to realize the projections.

In the draw for the inaugural season the other day, the PBA Philippine Cup champion was placed in Group A with the Taiwan P.League+ champion Taipei Fubon Braves, the Korean league runner-up Anyang KGC and the Japanese league runner-up Ryukyu Golden Kings while the Philippine Cup runner-up was bracketed in Group B with the Bay Area Dragons of Greater China, Japanese league champion Utsunomiya Brex and Korean league champion Seoul SK Knights. Attending the draw were Knights head coach Chun Hee Chul with player Heo Il Young and Anyang head coach Kim Sang Shik with player Oh Se Keun. PBA commissioner Willie Marcial called heads in the coin toss for the PBA teams. The PBA Governors who witnessed the draw were EASL Advisory Board member Alfrancis Chua of Ginebra, Vice Chairman Bobby Rosales of Terrafirma, Erick Arejola of NorthPort and Silliman Sy of Blackwater. Dioceldo Sy, Blackwater owner, also attended.

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