MANILA, Philippines -- Officials of the PBA are confident that they can accommodate the East Asia Super League (EASL), which starts in October 2022, into the league's busy schedule.
The PBA last week formalized its partnership with the pioneering league, which aims to bring together top club teams in Asia in a UEFA Champions League-style competition that features home-and-away games.
Aside from the PBA, the EASL also inked partnerships with Japan's B.League, the Korean Basketball League, Chinese Taipei's P.League, and a seeded top Greater China team in Hong Kong SAR.
"It's clearly a game-changer. It promises exciting games at a very high level of competition, not only for the players, but exposure also for the enjoyment of our fans," PBA Chairman Ricky Vargas said of their decision to join the EASL.
PBA teams including TNT Tropang GIGA and San Miguel Beer previously joined EASL's invitational tournaments, but next year's competition demands a firmer commitment from participating clubs.
Teams will compete in a home-and-away group stage that will run from October 2022 to February 2023, with eight clubs divided into two groups of four each. The top two will advance to a sudden death semifinals, with the finals also a one-game affair. The playoffs are scheduled for March 2023.
According to Vargas, the PBA has already begun studying how it can accommodate the EASL into its congested schedule.
Unlike other leagues in Asia, the PBA's season features three separate conferences as opposed to one long campaign.
"The number of conferences has not been determined, but when we signed the agreement with the EASL, we were already looking at our schedules," said Vargas.
"We will adjust the year to be able to accommodate the schedule of the EASL. We're committed to supporting the EASL," he said.
The PBA's deputy commissioner, Eric Castro, assured that the PBA can fulfill its commitment to the EASL even if it follows its traditional format of having three conferences in every season.
"Right now, if the 47th season pushes through by April of 2022, we can still hold three conferences. And like what Chairman Vargas mentioned earlier, we will try to accommodate the tipoff of the EASL by October of 2022," he said.
The PBA has yet to make a concrete determination on how it will select its representative to the EASL. Initial plans include drawing lots from among the top four teams in the league in a given conference, but PBA officials have also said that forming a selection is possible.
"Pwede din mag-selection, pwede ding Gilas, pwede ding PBA-Gilas, so kahit anong kumbinasyon na makakasama. Ia-adjust natin sa schedules natin," said PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial.