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PBA looks to send either Gilas cadets, select team to EASL

The PBA is in talks with the East Asia Super League, as the latter has reached a 10-year agreement with FIBA to run an annual league featuring the top professional clubs from the East Asia and in the Philippines. 

“Nag-uusap kami ni Matt Beyer tungkol diyan,” said Commissioner Willie Marcial, referring to the chief executive officer of EASL, which was founded in 2016.

“Sabi ko pag-uusapan namin sa board.”

Teams from Asia’s pioneering pro league have taken part in EASL events in Macau for the past two years, starting with NLEX and Blackwater in 2018 when they competed in the all-local Summer Super 8. The Elite returned to Macau last year for the import-laden The Terrific 12, where two other teams in San Miguel Beer and TNT also saw action.

So far, the Road Warriors and the Beermen are the only Philippine teams that have gone as far as the semifinals. They both finished fourth in the tournaments they played in.

The EASL, however, is set to bear a new format and will be launched on October 2021 — a month after the FIBA Asia Champions Cup, an annual club competition held every September.

The new format will match up the region’s top eight teams in a home-and-away group stage. That round culminates with a Final Four in February, which determines the champion, runner-up and third-place finishers.

According to Marcial, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio — who is also the team governor of Meralco — is also involved in the discussions, since the EASL is now FIBA-recognized.

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“Under FIBA na, so magkausap kami ni Gov. Al Panlilio,” the third-year commissioner said. “Sa kanya manggagaling kung anong proseso papunta sa PBA. Kasi FIBA na eh, ‘di katulad noon parang liga lang nila… So, iba na ngayon. Nasa FIBA na. So, si Gov. Al Panlilio ang magsasabi sa amin, tapos ipe-present ko sa board.”

EASL matches will be integrated into the schedules of the participating professional leagues. Still, the PBA wants to clarify if they can send a selection or even the Gilas Pilipinas team itself.

“We are still discussing that with them, whether the PBA can just send a selection or can we send the Gilas team. Can we do that? So that’s under discussion,” said PBA chairman Ricky Vargas.

One other concern of the PBA is player eligibility — whether EASL will adopt FIBA’s rules on such or simply stick with its own regulations.

FIBA applies the same eligibility rules for national team meets to club tourneys like the Champions Cup. Meralco was previously unable to field in a complete lineup when it played in the 2018 edition of the said tilt.

The Bolts were without two of their stars in Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge as they were declared ineligible, despite the fact that they are locals in the PBA. The team still went on to finish fourth.

“The other thing that’s under discussion is the rules on players. Pwede bang ‘yung players ng naglalaro sa team or naglalaro sa PBA? Kasi there was a time hindi nila tinanggap ‘yung mga players based on FIBA rules,” said Vargas.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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