HONG KONG (AP) — The World Cup venue in Okinawa will have a preview tournament run in March when the East Asia Super League tips off for Season 1 with its inaugural Champions Week in Japan.
EASL organizers on Wednesday said all eight qualified teams will contest Champions Week in Japan from March 1-5, with the championship match and the third-place playoff hosted by the Ryukyu Golden Kings at the stadium that will host games during the basketball World Cup starting Aug. 25 next year.
A total of 10 games will be played, with Japan’s domestic league champion Utsunomiya Brex hosting the first six in the group stage and Ryukyu Golden Kings hosting two group games and the playoffs.
“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," EASL chief executive Matt Beyer said. “EASL Champions Week in Japan will ... provide fans with electrifying game actions and a platform for the top leagues and professional teams in the region to gain global exposure.”
The eight-team league will feature the winners and runners-up from the Japanese, South Korean and Philippines leagues as well as the Taiwanese champions and the Bay Area Dragons, a club representing Greater China. The Dragons will be based in Manila ahead of Season 1 and also play in the Philippines league.
The pan-regional EASL has started production on a reality series covering the inaugural season, and plans to produce five 20-minute episodes based on the Champions Week.
South Korean film director John H. Lee is involved in the project and working with executive producer Ezra Holland, director of CTRL Media owned by former NBA star Steve Nash.
The San Miguel Beermen, the most successful basketball club in the Philippines and the only remaining original franchise in the domestic league, and the TNT Tropang Giga will feature in EASL's Season 1.
“We can’t wait to see our top teams head to Japan to compete in East Asia Super League competition,” PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said. “We’re also well aware of the rising popularity of Filipino players and basketball in Japan, and we’re ready to make a strong run for the championship.”
Korean Basketball League Commissioner Kim Hee Ok said he hopes the Champions Week will be “a foundation for a prosperous and stable long term operation of EASL."
EASL organizers plan to launch the eight-team home-and-away format later next year and aim to expand to 16 teams for Season 3 in 2024.
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