THE PBA will hold a drawing of lots from its top four teams to determine which ballclubs will represent the Philippine pro league in the inaugural home-and-away season of the East Asia Super League (EASL) next year.
The league board has yet to determine how to identify the four teams to be included in the drawing of lots, but Commissioner Willie Marcial said it could be based on the order of finish in the Philippine Cup, considered as the crown jewel of the season.
“Hindi pa napag-uusapan (sa Board) yun, pero most likely yung sa Philippine Cup,” he said.
On Thursday, the PBA and EASL held a virtual press conference to formalize their. Marcial and board chairman Ricky Vargas represented the league in the media briefing also attended by EASL CEO and co-founder Matt Beyer.
Other than the top four teams, Vargas hinted at the possibility of forming a team from players of the four ballclubs, or even sending the Gilas Pilipinas squad of coach Tab Baldwin.
“The simplest way that we talked about is by drawing lots,” said Vargas during the virtual presser. “The other way is also by forming teams around the top four teams, and the other one is we may even consider including in the discussion the Philippine team or the Gilas Pilipinas.”
“We want to be competitive, we will be competitive, and that’s the way we look at it,” added the PBA chairman. “Any of the top four teams that will go there will fight to their best.”
If the recent all-Filipino conference would be made as the basis of selection, reigning champion TnT Tropang Giga, Magnolia Hotshots, Meralco Bolts, and the San Miguel Beermen will participate in the drawing of lots.
Bayer said the EASL is in full support of whatever decision the PBA will make in as far as representing the league in the regional tournament is concerned.
“We want to see the best Filipino teams possible and we want to have the best matches possible on a weekly basis,” he said. “We support the PBA’s method for selecting teams, and we’re looking forward to seeing strong Filipino teams taking part in the EASL.”
Two PBA ballclubs will form part of the eight-team cast that will also include representatives from the Japan B.League, Korean Basketball League (KBL), Chinese Taipei P. LEAGUE+, and a seeded top Greater China team in Hong Kong SAR.
The eight teams will play under a home-and-away format during a group stage set from October 2022 to February of 2023.
Teams will be divided into groups of two of four squads each. The top two teams in each group will advance to the semifinals, with the two survivors fighting for the championship sometime in March 2023 for the $1 million top prize.
Runner-up receives $500,000, and third placer $250,000.
“It’s not all about money, but it’s also about pride, although the prize money is good,” Vargas said. “But we’re a very proud organization and we’d like to be able to prove that we can compete with the best of Asia.”
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