By JONAS TERRADO
The PBA is keen to sending the best teams possible for its initial foray in the East Asia Super League’s regional tournament which could start in Oct. 2022.
PBA Vhairman Ricky Vargas made this commitment Thursday, a day after the league formalized its entry in the EASL along with Asian counterparts in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and a team from Hong Kong.
Two slots are allotted for the PBA which Vargas said can be determined through various means, even opening to the idea of sending Gilas Pilipinas.
“The simplest way that we talked about is by drawing lots. The other simplest way is also by forming teams around the top four teams. And the other one, we may even consider including in the discussion the Philippine team or Gilas,” Vargas said.
“We want to be competitive and we will be competitive and that’s how we look at it,” added Vargas during a virtual press conference also attended by PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial and EASL Chief Executive Officer Matt Beyer.
Japan’s B.League and South Korea’s Korean Basketball League are each given two slots while Taiwan will be represented by the champion of the P.League+.
A team from Hong Kong, named the Bay Area Chun Yu Phoenixes, will also take part in the league that will be split into two groups for the home-and-away matches followed by a knockout semis and championship game.
Beyer welcomed the PBA’s desire to put up a strong showing in the EASL competition which will hand $1 million to the champion team.
“That’s what the fans want to see,” Beyer said. “We want to see the best Filipino teams possible and we want to have the best matches possible on a weekly basis.
“So I think in terms of this partnership with the PBA that we want it to be long term, fair, equitable, and true, win win. So we support the PBAs method for selecting teams, and we’re looking forward to really strong Filipino teams taking part in ESL,” he added.
Teams will be divided into a group of two of four squads each.
The top two teams in the standings in each group will advance in the semifinals, with the two survivors fighting for the championship sometime in March 2023 for the $1 million prize money.
Runner-up receives $500,000, and third placer $250,000.
“It’s not all about money, but it’s also about pride, although the prize money is good,” Vargas said. “But we’re a very proud organization and we’d like to be able to prove that we can compete with the best of Asia.”