The stage has been set for the inaugural home-and-away season of the East Asia Super League (EASL) after the Season 2 Draw Ceremony at league headquarters in Hong Kong.
Eight qualifying teams from East Asia’s leading basketball leagues – Japan’s B.LEAGUE, the Korean Basketball League (KBL), the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), and the P. LEAGUE+ from Chinese Taipei – plus Greater China representative team Bay Area Dragons, were allocated into two groups for the first stage of the 2023-24 competition, which tips off this October.
Draw Ceremony Results:
Group A: Anyang KGC (KBL), Taipei Fubon Braves (P. LEAGUE+), Chiba Jets (B.LEAGUE), Talk ‘N Text Tropang Giga (PBA)
Group B: Seoul SK Knights (KBL), Ryukyu Golden Kings (B.LEAGUE), Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (PBA), Bay Area Dragons (EASL)
EASL Season 2 will run from October 11, 2023, to March 10, 2024.
Anyang KGC (KBL)
The defending champions of EASL Champions Week (Season 1 of EASL), Anyang KGC went on to win the 2023 KBL season in historic fashion. KGC completed a wire-to-wire finish during the regular season, where they were first in the standings from beginning to end, before securing a victory over Seoul SK Knights in the Finals.
Anyang guard Park Ji Hoon spoke to EASL about this team’s Season 2 Group A opponents, saying, “First of all, it is an honor to be part of the new season as the defending champions.
“We meet again with the Taipei Fubon Braves, who we played against last March, and for that they will grind their teeth to take revenge on us. So we will not be complacent and will do our best to prepare.
“I know the Chiba Jets as a prestigious team in Japan, and I know Yuki Togashi in particular because he played for the Japanese national team since I was young. A head-to-head match awaits.
“The TNT Tropang Giga team showed their competitiveness against SK last March, and we will be vigilant in the return matchup.
“We will do our best to win this season as well, because we have 'Professor D' Monroe and 'Superman' Spellman!”
Head Coach Kim Sang Shik said, “It is an honor to participate in EASL as the defending champion. We will once again show Anyang KGC’s competitiveness, our unique tenacity and teamwork on the East Asian stage. But this does not mean we will be arrogant… We will go back to the beginner’s mindset and challenge to the top.”
Taipei Fubon Braves (P. LEAGUE+)
EASL Season 2 marks Taipei Fubon Braves’ second appearance in an EASL competition after participating in the Terrific 12 tournament in 2018. In their four EASL games, their lone victory came against Shandong Golden Stars of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) in 2018.
They are the P. LEAGUE+ three-peat champions, winning the league in all three seasons since the league’s inauguration in 2020.
Chiba Jets (B.LEAGUE)
This will be the third appearance in an EASL competition for Chiba Jets after competing in the Terrific 12 tournament in 2018 and 2019. The team failed to get out of the group stage at both those events, with their lone victory coming in 2019 against Blackwater Elite of the PBA.
But the Jets made a statement in Japan this season, breaking the B.LEAGUE record with 53 victories in the regular season, including embarking on a league-record 24-game winning streak from December 2022 to March 2023.
Commenting on the Jets’ upcoming EASL campaign, star player Yuki Togashi said, “I am very looking forward to representing the B.LEAGUE and competing against teams from East Asia, and I hope that this tournament will be an opportunity for people to see more of Japanese basketball.”
Jets Head Coach John Patrick said, “It is a great honor to be able to participate in the second season of EASL and I would like to thank everyone involved for creating this opportunity, and I hope that not only B.LEAGUE but also EASL will be able to fight together… and leave new records!”
Talk ‘N Text Tropang Giga (PBA)
TNT Tropang Giga were the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup Champions, which secured their spot in EASL Season 2. This marks TNT’s third appearance in an EASL competition, after participating in the 2019 Terrific 12 tournament and EASL Champions Week in March. The team has one win in four games in EASL competitions, with their win coming against Niigata Albirex BB of the B.LEAGUE in 2019.
Seoul SK Knights (KBL)
Season 2 will be Seoul SK Knights’ third appearance in EASL competitions. At EASL Champions Week in March, the 2023 KBL runners-up went down to the eventual champions, Anyang KGC, in the Championship Game.
SK also reached the Gold Medal Match in the Terrific 12 in 2019 but came up just short against Liaoning Flying Leopards of the CBA.
Speaking to EASL about the Knights’ participation in Season 2, Head Coach Chun Hee-chul said, “There may be some difficult parts due to the home-and-away competition format and fierce competition between Group B teams, but based on the experience of getting good results in the EASL Champions Week, we will enjoy the ride again this time.”
Forward Heo Il Young said the Knights have high hopes for EASL Season 2, stating, “It doesn’t matter which team we face. We aim to win the EASL Championship this year.”
Ryukyu Golden Kings (B.LEAGUE)
The 2023 B.LEAGUE Champions, the Ryukyu Golden Kings, will be making their fourth appearance in EASL competitions, the most in EASL history. The Golden Kings were winners in the 2018 Terrific 12 tournament in Macau, beating out Guangzhou Loong Lions of the CBA. They co-hosted EASL Champions Week this March, where they placed fourth.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (PBA)
The Gin Kings booked their ticket to Season 2 after finishing runners-up in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup Final. They were winners of the 2023 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, beating guest team Bay Area Dragons over seven games this January. Ginebra have won 15 PBA championships in their 44-year history. Season 2 marks their first appearance in an EASL competition.
Bay Area Dragons
The Bay Area Dragons were created in 2021 to represent Greater China in EASL competitions. The Dragons have history with all three teams in Group B. They lost to Seoul SK Knights in the Group Stage of EASL Champions Week this year. In the Third Place Game of the same competition, Bay Area beat the hosts, Ryukyu Golden Kings, convincingly to claim the bronze medal. They will also go head-to-head against their PBA rivals, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, who they lost to in the 2023 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals in January.
Further quotes and reactions
EASL Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Matt Beyer:
“The Season 2 Draw Ceremony has set the stage for an incredibly exciting first season of home-and-away East Asia Super League (EASL) games. It is going to give Asian basketball fans a revolutionary new experience: The best teams in the region, facing off in a full season of competitive action for the first time.”
B.LEAGUE Chairman Shinji Shimada:
“The Ryukyu Golden Kings, who won the B.LEAGUE championship in the 2022-23 season, and the Chiba Jets, who finished as runners up, will participate in the East Asia Super League next season. We hope that both clubs will make the tournament a great success in their quest to become champions. We hope that basketball fans in Asia will enjoy not only the games but also the hospitality of our home games. We look forward to seeing you all.”
Korean Basketball League (KBL) Commissioner Kim Hee-Ok:
“We are very happy that KBL will be participating in EASL again, following EASL Champions Week. The two representative teams of KBL, Anyang KGC and Seoul SK Knights, have an opportunity to once again compete with leading basketball clubs in East Asia. KBL will do its best to participate and support so that our teams can compete with the best teams in East Asia and promote Korean basketball to the world. Good luck to all teams participating in EASL.”
Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner Willie Marcial:
“PBA is excited to be taking part in Season 2 of East Asia Super League, and for our teams to be competing against these great teams from other leagues in East Asia. We look forward to hosting visiting teams and fans, and giving them the best hardcourt action that the league and the Philippines have to offer.”
P. LEAGUE+ Chief Executive Charles Chen:
“P. LEAGUE+ is excited to be taking part in Season 2 of East Asia Super League, and for our teams to be competing against these great teams from other leagues in East Asia. We look forward to hosting visiting teams and fans – they can be assured of a warm welcome and hospitality in Taipei. We also look forward to thrilling action on the court as teams from the different leagues clash competitively to decide our East Asian regional champion in 2023-24.”
Hagop Khajirian, FIBA Executive Director – Asia:
“EASL has demonstrated a strong commitment to developing basketball in East Asia during its first season. The home and away format in season 2 will be exciting and I want to wish the best of luck to all the participating teams.”