The East Asia Super League is pushing through with its annual The Terrific 12 festivities this September amidst the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
EASL chief executive officer Matt Beyer said as much in the Hoop Coaches International’s roundtable discussion titled Basketball After COVID-19 hosted by Blackwater Elite Saturday.
“For this fall, so far, we are planning to have our event in Macau from September 15 to 20,” he said in the session where Blackwater owner Dioceldo Sy was also a guest.
The league’s decision to stage the meet appears daring amid the uncertainties brought upon by the virus.
Macau has been infected by the virus as well , with 45 confirmed COVID-19 cases, though 44 are already treading the road to recovery. The city has not recorded new cases since April 8.
Last February 20, before COVID-19 was a pandemic, the special administrative region allowed the reopening of casinos granted that they would implement strict health measures.
Beyer said that EASL is keeping contact with Macau’s sports bureau while discussing the execution of its plans.
“We’re already in the final planning stages with the Sports Bureau of Macau, and we’re discussing a strategic partnership with one of the major integrated resorts for that,” he said.
Beyer, though, is fully aware of the hazards of holding the meet this year, as the league will bring in not just the invited teams, but also the workforce needed for the hosting.
“We’re all about teams travelling from country-to-country in a very short time period, and for it to be integrated to their regular seasons. How do we do that?” said the American executive.
“Does a journey like Hong Kong to Manila, which is normally door-to-door, four to five hours including airport security and everything — does that become an all-day trip?”
Another concern will be which teams would participate. EASL is focused mainly on bringing in teams coming from the Philippines, China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.
The PBA indefinitely suspended the 2020 Philippine Cup last March 11, just days after playing its first game of the new season. The season’s future will be determined by the league in August.
The Chinese Basketball Association suspended its season on February 1, but it will resume by July.
Japan’s B.League suspended its season as well last February 26, but resumed its games without spectators last March 14. However, 13 days later, it cancelled the whole season.
It was also season cancelled for the Korean Basketball League, and there seems to be no turning back from that decision even if sports has been slowly coming back in South Korea.
The Super Basketball League of Taiwan did not issue any suspension. It even finished the season, with Taiwan Beer taking down Yulon Luxgen Dinos in six games for the title last April 30.
The American executive, still, said that the EASL will continue to keep track of the COVID-19 situation.
“We are watching the COVID-19 situation to see how it develops. We’re also observing how it moves.”
Should things turn out just fine, Beyer hopes to have PBA teams for the tournament just like last year.
PBA ball clubs that took part in the 2019 edition were Blackwater, TNT, and San Miguel, with the Beermen finishing the highest-placed among Filipino teams in fourth.
“If Filipinos can enter Macau, yes, there will be Filipino teams involved. I certainly hope so,” he said. “We had great PBA teams last time. For us, we’re blessed with any PBA teams that can come.
“But of course, we’re aiming for the best of the best in the East Asian leagues. We want the best teams possible.”
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