East Asia League eyes home-and-away format
MANILA, Philippines—It was in 2017 that a club competition that pitted teams from various professional basketball leagues sprung up in Asia.
Since then, there has been no stopping Matt Beyer, the CEO of the East Asia Super League, from pushing his tournament’s envelope further.
Beyer hopes to eventually see the tournament be played in a home and away format before converging for one final game, following the mold the UEFA Champions League, which was his original dream for the Asia League.
Like the Champions League, teams won’t have to prepare for another tournament outside of their usual schedule since it would be the EASL that would adjust and coincide its games.
“What we want to do is with a model to be able to stretch the [EASL] season over a six-month period and then that would allow us to be able to have fans looking forward to different competitions happening all the time and to be able to let us build buzz prior to games,” said Beyer.
Unlike the CBA, KBL, and B.League whose seasons last an average of six months of uninterrupted play, the PBA’s seasons last almost 10 months with staggered breaks in between the three conferences.
For this year’s Terrific 12, three teams– including the league’s two biggest clubs in San Miguel and TNT— were able to participate because the invitational coincided with the break between the PBA’s last two conferences.
But beyond getting top teams to spice up the East Asia League, Meyer said he also wants to help boster the quality of play in the country which in turn will benefit the national team.
“By having the opportunity to visit Manila, basically on a monthly basis for the past year and to sit down with the stakeholders and to build a relationship with them, they started to understand more about what kind of people we are and that what we’re trying to do is add value to the overall ecosystem,” said Beyer.
“We want to see all of the league’s [PBA] teams and the Gilas as strong as possible because there’s the World Cup that just finished in China, the next one is in the Philippines, then there’s the Tokyo Olympics and these are top basketball events internationally.”
Beyer acknowledged that the talent level between North America and European easily trumps that of the Asian countries. In fact, Iran is the highest nation from the continent in the Fiba rankings at 22 while the no.1 and 2 spots belong to the United States and World Cup champion Spain, respectively.
But he believes that one of the most feasible ways of catching up to the powers is through playing within the region and getting exposed to each others’ style of play.
“The talent that exists in East Asia, you know, is subpar to North America and Europe and we can bridge that gap through higher level of competition and a fun product,” said Beyer.