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Sports

EASL tickets await finalists

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The winners of the ongoing PBA Philippine Cup semifinals are battling not just for slots in the best-of-seven finals but also for tickets to the EASL inaugural season which will dangle a $1 million prize for the champion. The PBA finalists will automatically claim berths in the eight-team EASL tournament where every entry is guaranteed $20,000 a contest and a bonus of $20,000 for each win.

The EASL season reels off on Oct. 12 with the PBA champion facing Korean league runner-up Anyang KGC starring former Letran star Rhenz Abando on the road and the PBA second placer meeting the Bay Area Dragons of Greater China in Manila. The PBA champion is bracketed in Group A with Anyang, P.League+ titlist Taipei Fubon Braves and Japanese B.League runner-up Ryukyu Golden Kings. The PBA second placer is in Group B with the Dragons, B.League champion Utsunomiya Brex and Korean league ruler Seoul SK Knights.

Each EASL team plays six games, three away and three home, in the regular season up to February next year. The top two finishers in Groups A and B advance to the Final Four and figure in sudden-death games on the way to the championship showdown in March. The league will gather the best of the best in the region as the vision is to become one of the world’s top three pro basketball circuits by 2025 when it will expand to 16 clubs. “EASL’s founding mission is to create Asia’s premier basketball league while elevating the sport in the region,” said EASL CEO Matt Beyer. “EASL will launch its inaugural season with a 10-year exclusive agreement with FIBA.”

What makes EASL more enticing for Filipino fans is not only will the two PBA teams play home games in Manila but also the Dragons. The Greater China team arrived in Manila last week and is based at the Shangri-La The Fort Hotel in BGC. Dragons coach Brian Goorjian, who piloted the Australian men’s team to its first-ever Olympic medal in Tokyo last year, is conducting practices at Kerry Sports. Bay Area will be bannered by imports Andrew Nicholson and Myles Powell as EASL allows each team to enlist two reinforcements. However, the Dragons will suit up only Nicholson when they play in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup as a guest team starting Sept. 21. The height limit for imports in the PBA Second Conference is 6-9 15/16 or under 6-10.

EASL

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