PBA teams will have their hands full when they compete in the Terrific 12 of the Asia League slated September 17 to 22.
Former Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) champion Liaoning Flying Leopards lead two other teams from the East Asia country which will complete the 12-team cast vying in the annual tournament being held in Macau.
Aside from Liaoning, the other Chinese ballclubs are the Shenzen Lepards and the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions, according to Asia League Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Matt Beyer.
The Flying Leopards beat the Guangsha Lions in the finals to win the 2018 CBA championship.
The participation of the top three Chinese ballclubs was assured by CBA Chairman and President Yao Ming during a recent meeting with Beyer in China.
“We want the best teams possible,” said Beyer Wednesday night as he watched Game 4 of the PBA Philippine Cup finals between San Miguel and Magnolia.
The three CBA teams will be joined by NLEX, Blackwater, and one from the San Miguel group of companies to represent the PBA, B-League of Japan has four entries including defending Terrific 12 champion Ryukyu Golden Kings, and two other ballclubs from the Korean Basketball League (KBL) will complete the cast of participants.
Both NLEX and Blackwater competed in the meet last year, with the Road Warriors reaching as far as the semifinals.
“Japan I won’t know until after the finals this weekend, but we definitely have Ryukyu Kings back this year,” said Beyer. “KBL I’m still not sure yet. But we’re waiting for probably a week or two to decide, but I think we’re going to announce the teams that are taking place in it.”
Beyer said he hasn’t no idea yet on which of the three San Miguel teams is going to see action in the six-day tournament, but he did have a talk with SMC sports director Alfrancis Chua and PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial before Game 4.
“We had a really good talk. And I want to say thank you very much (to them) for allowing the PBA teams to come this September,” said Beyer. “Of course we want to keep talking about the future and everything, too.”
Beyer said Chua already signified intention of sending a team from the SMC umbrella.
“They want one of their three teams to come to the games. And it’s going to depend on how their teams go in the next conference. but we’re ready for whoever it is,” he said.
Beyer said teams will be allowed to field in two imports during the tournament.
Blackwater team owner Dioceldo Sy, who joined Beyer at ringside of the Smart Araneta Coliseum, is contemplating about buying and investing in the league, which he said could be the next NBA Asia if things go according to plans.