EASL explores what each team in the league might be wishing for this Christmas as we pass through the midway mark of the season
December 22, 2023 – With Christmas just days away, EASL investigates what each team may be wishing Santa puts in their sneakers this holiday season.
Chiba Jets (4-0) – A healthy roster
Group A leaders Chiba Jets have everything going for them this EASL season. The B.LEAGUE side is undefeated with a 4-0 record this season. They have already booked a ticket into the Final Four, and only need one more win to be atop of their group.
The Jets will need all their players locked and ready before the Final Four.
They’ve had their fair share of injuries this season. Star center John Mooney missed the opening two games of the season. Japan National Team forward Shuta Hara also missed the first three games in Chiba’s campaign.
If the Jets get a full lineup going in time for the Final Four, they will be one of the teams to beat in the tournament.
Anyang Jung Kwan Jang Red Boosters (2-1) – A defensive wall
After winning the first two games of the season, Jung Kwan Jang got a reality check from Group A leaders Chiba Jets on December 13, falling 102-69 at home.
The EASL Champions Week champs have struggled mightily on defense this season, allowing a league-worst 92 points in three games.
While their offense is humming, the KBL champs will need to clean up their defense for any chance of defending their EASL title.
Taipei Fubon Braves (1-3) – A closer
The P. LEAGUE+ champions have been struggling to close out games late in the game.
In four games this season, Fubon has been outscored 88-66 in the fourth quarter, a point difference of -22.
Their inability to close out games costs the team any chance of maintaining leads or coming back from games.
Fubon will need to perform a lot better in the final frame if they want their EASL to continue beyond the Group Stage.
TNT Tropang Giga (1-4) – A whole lot of luck
TNT Tropang Giga FINALLY recorded their first victory this season after beating P. LEAGUE+ champions Taipei Fubon Braves on Wednesday.
Unfortunately for the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup champions, they only have one game left in the schedule and will need Jung Kwan Jang to lose out and Fubon to win their only game against JKJ to have a farfetched chance of advancing to the Final Four.
Of course, TNT will also need to win in their last Group Stage game against Jung Kwan Jang on January 24 to have any chance of advancing.
New Taipei Kings (2-0) – More from the Lin Brothers
The New Taipei Kings are at a comfortable 2-0 this season, but they haven’t tapped into the full potential of the Lin brothers just yet.
In one of the biggest stories last offseason, Jeremy Lin joined forces with his brother Joseph in New Taipei City. Jeremy – the former NBA star, has had an up-and-down season thus far.
Jeremy struggled mightily in his EASL debut, going 5-for-14 for 12 points in the team’s win against Seoul SK Knights. Fortunately for the team, Kenny Manigault stepped up with a 22-point effort to lead the Kings to victory. Brother Joseph also played well, contributing 21 points in the win.
In the second game against Meralco, the Kings trailed for most of the game, Joseph went scoreless for the first three quarters, finishing the game with a measly six points. Jeremy recovered from his dismal Game 1 with a 25-point effort, leading the Kings to a comeback victory.
If the Lin brothers can perform to their fullest potential together in the same game, they are one of the favorites to win the whole thing.
Ryukyu Golden Kings (2-2) – A clean bill of health
B.LEAGUE champions Ryukyu Golden Kings are 2-2 in the season, but they have had their fair share of injury concerns.
Leading scorer Vic Law missed two of the team’s EASL games with a knee injury. He came back against Meralco Bolts in Macau and scored a team-high 27.
Leading rebounder Jack Cooley also missed two games with a knee injury and has struggled to get back to his B.LEAGUE form, averaging just 11 points and 10.5 rebounds in two games.
Forward Hugh Watanabe only played his first game for Ryukyu in the B.LEAGUE on December 2.
When the Golden Kings get back into form from injury, they are one of the more underrated teams in the league.
Seoul SK Knights (1-2) – Secondary scoring
EASL Champions Week runners-up Seoul SK Knights are one of the frustrating teams to figure out this season.
Star center Jameel Warney is leading the league in scoring, averaging 42 points in two games this season. Unfortunately, he outscored his teammates 84-68 in the two games, both resulting in losses.
In their lone win against Ryukyu Golden Kings where Warney was out due to injury, they got contributions from other players, with four Knights scoring in double figures.
SK need to find some secondary help to alleviate the pressure coming on Warney if they want to find success in the new year.
Meralco Bolts (1-2) – More faith from the fans
The Meralco Bolts came into the season as one of the underdogs of the league, as they were the only team in EASL not to make the Finals in their domestic league last season.
However, with this chip on their shoulder, they played considerably well, staying in the games late.
While they finished shell shocked against Ryukyu in the first game, they were leading after three quarters against the heavily favored New Taipei Kings in the second game. They fell after some heroics by Jeremy Lin.
They eventually pulled off their first win against B.LEAGUE champions Ryukyu Golden Kings on December 13 in Macau, becoming the first Philippine side to win an EASL game since 2019.
The Bolts will need to continue their “prove you wrong” mentality if they want to continue to find success further into the season.