MANILA, Philippines—The East Asia Super League may have just set the format for its first two seasons but it’s already looking to expand wider come the third with the inclusion of teams from the Chinese Basketball Association.
EASL CEO Matt Beyer said that it’s currently impossible to include teams from the CBA in the competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic but it is plausible for the Chinese clubs to be included in the tournament by either 2023 or 2024.
“We will expand so by season three will go from eight to 16 teams and I expect a lot of that expansion to be heavily China-focused,” said Beyer in a virtual press conference.
The current EASL format will have eight teams play in two group of four across several weeks of home-and-away games with the top four clubs meeting in a major Asian city for the knockouts.
Teams from the PBA, Japan’s B.League, Taiwan’s P.League+, Korea’s KBL, and Hong Kong’s Bay Area Chun Yu Phoenixes will compete in the first season of EASL but CBA has been excluded from the first tournament due to logical difficulties.
China has stringent COVID-19 measures including cities imposing a 52-day quarantine.
Nevertheless, Beyer is keen to bring back the CBA into the fold especially with Chinese teams winning two of the EASL’s four previous invitational tournaments.
“As anyone who’s followed our events from 2017 onwards, we actually had our first event had CBA teams,” said Beyer. “And all of them subsequently had CBA teams.”
The Liaoning Flying Leopards, which had former NBA guard Lance Stephenson, of the CBA won the EASL’s previous competition, the Terrific 12, back in 2019.
“We’re all enjoying a world that, you know, you just hop on a plane anytime you want and go anywhere if you have the means and the time,” said Beyer. “But now I think that you know because of COVID], this is showing that the world is still quite a big place, so we have to wait until the right time.”
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