Basketball | Macau mulled as major venue for East Asia Super League

Debuting next year, the East Asia Super League (EASL) is eyeing Macau as one of the stops on its Asian tour, the organizers have revealed to the Times, with the possibility of it becoming a major venue of the tournament now a serious consideration.

“We are currently in the process of planning our Season 1, including the ‘group stage’ and Final Four,” a spokesperson at EASL said, adding, “Given our great history so far with ‘The Terrific 12’ in Macau, we strongly desire to have many Macau elements in our Season 1.”

To make that possible, the organizers said that they are currently in discussions with the government as well as several private business stakeholders regarding their plans to bring the League to Macau in 2021.

The League’s Season 1 has been announced for October 2021 with a group stage, culminating with a “Final Four” stage taking place by February 2022.

Given the possibilities open to organizers, Macau could become one of the host cities of the League, by either hosting matches from the group stage, where it could be used as a “home” side of one of the participating teams coming from the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) or, have a highlighted role, in the case of hosting the Final Four, which would determine the champion, runner-up and third-place finisher.

Questioned by the Times as to whether, in such a case, the event would be held in a public venue or at an integrated resort, the same spokesperson said that had not been decided.

“We are open to both collaboration with one of the integrated resorts or staging our events in the government-owned facilities. For EASL, it’s important that we provide fans with the best experience in person and on broadcast.”

EASL recalled that the previous events organized in Macau made use of the facilities in Studio City, the Macau Dome and Tap Seac Multisport Pavilion, noting, “we are familiar with the various venues in Macau, and we’re confident we’ll be able to execute a great event product at any of them.”

The first season of EASL will include the participation of eight of the best professional teams in East Asia and the Philippines, in a home-and-away group stage from which the best four teams will proceed to the Final Four stage.
In an announcement made yesterday by EASL, it was also said that the League is aiming to double the number of participating teams for the second season (2022/2023), when the number of teams in the group stage will be 16.

Participants will include top teams from the Greater China region, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines.

Agreement with FIBA to boost reputation

Also announced yesterday was a 10-year agreement between EASL and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), which aims to elevate the reputation of the League as well as develop club basketball in the region. The agreement also establishes that the League will take place one month after the annual FIBA Asia Champions Cup, the most important club competition in Asia, which takes place annually in September.

On the agreement, FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis said, “the recognition of the East Asia Super League is based on a shown commitment to developing basketball in the region, and is in line with FIBA’s club competition strategy, that is, to shape international club competitions.”

Regarding this opportunity, FIBA’s Executive Director for Asia, Hagop Khajirian, noted that over the past few years, EASL has demonstrated “the operational capability to organize high-level competitions for top clubs, and a strong commitment to elevating the sport of basketball in East Asia under the FIBA regulatory framework for leagues.”

EASL’s CEO Matt Beyer expressed great satisfaction about receiving FIBA’s support in the launching of the Asian League. “We are confident it will become one of the top professional basketball competitions in the world by 2025,” said Beyer.

Beyer also added that EASL is looking forward to furthering FIBA’s vision to strengthen domestic clubs and league competition in East Asia, which will contribute to FIBA’s global club championship ambitions.

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