PBA champ kicks off hostilities in inaugural EASL in October

THE finalists of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup will have their hands full right away in the inaugural East Asia Super League (EASL) home-and-away opener on October 12.

The champion of the all-Filipino conference opens the first double-header and will travel to South Korea where it faces Korean Basketball League (KBL) runner-up Anyang KGC featuring national team mainstay Byeon Jun Hyung and possibly, National Collegiate Athletic Association Rookie-MVP Rhenz Abando, who recently signed with the Korean team.

The PBA runner-up team, meanwhile, will host former National Basketball Association (NBA) player Andrew Nicholson and the Bay Area Dragons in the other half of the twin bill.

The Philippine Cup is now on its semifinals stage, with the field down to its final four teams—top seed San Miguel Beer, defending champion TNT, Magnolia and Meralco.

On October 19, the other half of the eight-team field make their debuts as reigning P.League+ champion Taipei Fubon Braves meet B.League runner-up Ryukyu Golden Kings at home, while B. League’s Utsunomiya Brex against KBL’s Seoul SK Knights in Japan.

Capping the action on October 26 is the game between Anyang and Braves in Korea and the PBA champion against the Dragons in Manila.

Only two games will be held in November to give way to the FIBA World Cup qualifying window—the Knights go up against Brex in Korea and the PBA champion hosts the Kings, both on November 2.

The PBA runner-up plays two games against Brex on the road on December7 and the same Japan-based team at home on December 21.

The Philippine Cup champ meanwhile, clashes with Jet Chang and the Braves on December 28 in Manila in what would be a return trip for the P. League+ MVP, who once suited up for the Kia franchise as Asian import in 2015.

The rest of the Filipinos’ schedule will have the Philippine Cup runner-up travelling to Korea to face the Knights on January 11 and the champion going to Taipei and battle the Braves on the same day.

The runner-up meets the Knights in Manila on January 18, while the champion team hosts Anyang on January 25 and then goes to Japan on February 1 to meet the Kings.

The eight teams have been divided into two groups of four each. Group A is composed of Anyang, Braves, Kings and the PBA champion, while Group B has the Knights, Brex, Dragons and the PBA runner-up.

Top two teams in each group advance to the crossover Final Four on March 3, with the two teams to survive playing for the $1 million final on March 5.