January 18, 2023 – The EASL 2023-24 Season Final Four is right around the corner, on March 8-10. Two teams have qualified – the B.LEAGUE’s Chiba Jets and P. LEAGUE+ side New Taipei Kings. Two more spots are up for grabs. In a sign of how competitive the season has been, no team has yet been knocked out – six are fighting for those Final Four spots.
Let’s see how the contenders are faring with three weeks left in the Group Stage.
In both groups, Final Four qualification could come down to three-way tiebreakers. In that case, EASL’s tiebreaker rules would kick in, as follows:
If two or more teams have the same win-loss record after all group games have been played, the games between these two or more teams shall decide the classification. If these two or more teams have the same win-loss record in the games between them, further criteria shall be used in the following order:
- Higher game points difference in the games between them.
- Higher number of game points scored in the games between them.
- Higher game points difference in all games in the group.
- Higher number of game points scored in all games in the group.
Chiba Jets (6-0) – 1st in Group A
Chiba Jets won Group A after going undefeated in the Group Stage.
They have played all their games and are now waiting to see who they will face in the Final Four. In their semifinal on March 8, they will play the second-ranked team in Group B.
Anyang Jung Kwan Jang Red Boosters (2-2) – 2nd in Group A
The reigning KBL and EASL Champions Week champs are reeling right now, having won just three games across all competitions since November 17.
Currently standing with a 2-2 record in EASL, Jung Kwan Jang needs some wins to turn their season around.
They have two games left, against the two teams in the Group A basement. They play third-placed TNT Tropang Giga away on January 24, and fourth-placed Taipei Fubon Braves away on the last day of the Group Stage, February 7.
Jung Kwan Jang’s fate is in their hands. If they win just one of these games, they go through.
However, if they lose both, and finish on a 2-4 record, they could find themselves in a three-way tiebreaker with TNT and Fubon.
TNT Tropang Giga (1-4) – 3rd in Group A
TNT Tropang Giga need a lot of things to go their way to make the Final Four.
The PBA Governors’ Cup champs have one game left in their EASL schedule, a tilt against Jung Kwan Jang on January 24.
TNT need to beat the defending EASL champions and also need Taipei Fubon Braves to defeat Anyang on the final day of the Group Stage to have any chance of advancing.
If these two games go their way, they will find themselves in a three-way tiebreaker with Jung Kwan Jang and Fubon, with the final classification likely coming down to the points differential in the games between the three teams.
To give themselves the best possible chance of going through, TNT must focus on winning their game against Jung Kwan Jang by as big a margin as possible.
Taipei Fubon Braves (1-4) – 4th in Group A
The P. LEAGUE+ champions have been disappointing this season, currently sitting bottom of Group A and bottom of the EASL team power rankings. However, they’re not out of the running yet.
Fubon play one final game against Jung Kwan Jang on February 7. Their chance of getting into the Final Four rests on them winning this game and also on TNT beating Jung Kwan Jang on January 24.
Like TNT, Fubon must come out on top of the three-way tiebreaker situation that would then arise. To give themselves the best chance of doing that, they must put up a big win against Jung Kwan Jang to boost their points differential.
Fubon’s chances are slim, but they are not out yet.
New Taipei Kings (4-0) – 1st in Group B
The New Taipei Kings are on a comfortable 4-0 record with two games to go. They have claimed a spot in the Final Four, but are yet to clinch top spot in their group.
The Kings visit Okinawa on January 24 to play B.LEAGUE champs Ryukyu Golden Kings and then Seoul on January 31 in a tilt against the SK Knights.
They narrowly beat the Golden Kings, 67-63, in their last outing. Seoul SK Knights were more easily dispatched, 90-72, back in November.
One more win against either of the two teams will secure the Kings’ top spot in Group B.
Seoul SK Knights (2-2) – 2nd in Group B
EASL Champions Week runners-up Seoul SK Knights have two games left in the Group Stage, both at home. They host the undefeated New Taipei Kings on January 31 and get a visit from the Meralco Bolts on February 7.
Destiny is in Seoul’s hands, as they will claim a spot in the Final Four if they win either of these games.
Lose both, and we potentially have a three-way tie for the second Final Four spot in Group B, which will be decided on points difference in the games between the three teams.
On the other hand, if Seoul wins both their games and NTK loses their remaining two games, SK has a chance to win the group depending on points difference.
Ryukyu Golden Kings (2-3) – 3rd in Group B
B.LEAGUE champions Ryukyu Golden Kings need plenty of help to claim a spot in the Final Four.
If the team defeats the New Taipei Kings at home on January 24, they will get into the Final Four if SK loses both of their games.
If the Golden Kings lose, Ryukyu will need Seoul SK Knights to lose against both the Kings and Meralco Bolts to create a three-way tiebreaker that would be decided on points difference.
Both scenarios require SK to lose both of their games.
That dramatic loss against the Meralco Bolts in Studio City Macau in December will haunt Ryukyu – the surprise result significantly hindered their chances of moving on to the next round.
Meralco Bolts (1-4) – 4th in Group B
Meralco Bolts were widely considered the competition underdogs as they came into this EASL season.
They have performed admirably but managed only one win, an upset victory against the Ryukyu Golden Kings on December 13 in Studio City Macau.
Despite a 1-4 record, the Bolts still have a slim chance of making it to the Final Four.
First, they need the New Taipei Kings to defeat Ryukyu on January 24 and then Seoul on January 31.
Meralco will then need to beat the Knights on February 7 to enter a three-way tie with them and Ryukyu.
The points difference tiebreaker will then come into play to determine who advances to the next round.