MACAU – Asia League Super 8 2018 organizers hope to lure more Filipino teams in the future following the impressive campaigns of NLEX and Blackwater.
Asia League CEO Matt Beyer said the presence of more PBA teams will bolster its bid to become the premier preseason tournament for clubs in the region.
“We were very happy about the performance of NLEX and Blackwater here. I’ve been to the Philippines a lot of times and I know how passionate the Filipino fans are about the sport. So if we could get more PBA teams to join, that’s what we would want long term,” Beyer said.
NLEX got as far as the semifinals of the tournament while Blackwater lost out in the quotient tiebreak after competing against some of the best teams in China, Korea, Japan, and Chinese Taipei.
Beyer sees their stints are a good starting point for more Filipino ballclubs to join either Asia League’s all-local tournament Super 8, or in the Terrific 12 in September.
“It should help to entice the PBA teams to go out here and make a mark. We started a dialogue with the PBA with commissioner Willie Marcial and I think we can work out a long-term deal,” he said.
“We really wanted to get a foothold into the PBA and (NLEX and Blackwater) were great. They took it seriously, they’re having fun, they’re engaging the fans in the arena, they’re competitive, and they came here to win.”
However, if PBA teams couldn’t make it due to the scheduling of the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup, Beyer still welcomed the potential participation of other Filipino teams, especially San Miguel Alab Pilipinas of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL).
“I would’ve preferred to have Alab. I think we can work it out for the September (event). As long as its a Filipino club team and be competitive with the other teams,” he said.
Alab head coach Jimmy Alapag, meanwhile, said that nothing is cast in stone yet.
“We're not sure yet. We'll have to see how our schedule looks like at that time because we'll also be preparing for the upcoming ABL season,” he said.
“Maybe in the future, something can be worked out because I think it's a great tournament and it's a great opportunity to get exposure from the other top club teams around Asia. It's great competition.”
With rapidly growing interest in the region and the success the Asia League garnered in the last two years, Beyer admitted that expansion is indeed in the pipeline.
“For our July event which is the Super 8, we will expand the scale of the teams rapidly. From eight, we want to make it 16 teams next year, and hopefully, by 2019 or 2020 season to have an integration to the regular season of the leagues across the region,” he said.
“What we’re aiming for is to become the Asian version of the Las Vegas Summer League and be the biggest preseason party for the teams.”