Aug 03, 2022

PH Cup finalists get early test in EASL opener

THE finalists of the PBA Philippine Cup will have their hands full right away in the opener of the East Asia Super League (EASL) during the inaugural of its home-and-away season.

The champion of the all-Filipino conference plays right off the bat in the season's very first doubleheader on Oct. 12, travelling to Korea and play KBL (Korean Basketball League) runner-up Anyang KGC featuring national team mainstay Byeon Jun Hyung and possibly, NCAA Rookie-MVP Rhenz Abando, who recently signed with the Korean team.

The PBA runner-up team meanwhile, will host former NBA player Andrew Nicholson and the Bay Area Dragons in the other half of the twin bill.

The Philippine Cup is now on its semifinals stage, with the field down to its final four teams in top seed San Miguel, defending champion TNT, Magnolia, and Meralco.

A week after on Oct. 19, the other half of the eight-team field make their respective debuts as reigning P. LEAGUE+ champion Taipei Fubon Braves meet B.LEAGUE runner-up Ryukyu Golden Kings at home, while it's a clash of champions between B. LEAGUE's Utsunomiya Brex against KBL's Seoul SK Knights in Japan.

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Capping the action in October is the game between Anyang and Braves in Korea, and the PBA champ against the Dragons in Manila on the 26th.

Only two games will be held in November to give way to the FIBA World Cup qualifying window, and it features the Knights going up against Brex in Korea, and the PBA champion hosting the Kings on Nov. 2.

On December, the PBA runner up plays two games against Brex on the road on Dec. 7, and then takes the same Japan-based team at home on the 21st.

The PH Cup champ meanwhile, clashes with Jet Chang and the Braves on Dec. 28 in Manila in what would be a return trip for the P. LEAGUE+ MVP, who once suited up for the KIA franchise as Asian import in 2015.

The rest of the Filipinos' schedule will have the PH Cup runner up travelling to Korea to face the Knights on Jan. 11 and the champion going to Taipei and battle the Braves on the same day, the runner up goes up against the Knights in Manila on the 18th, while the champion team hosts Anyang on the 25th and then goes to Japan on Feb. 1 to meet the Kings.

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The eight teams have been divided into two groups of four each.

Heading Group A is Anyang, Braves, Kings, and the PBA champion, while in Group B are the Knights, Brex, Dragons, and PBA runner up.

Top two teams in each group advance to the crossover Final Four on March 3, with the two teams to survive playing for the $1 million final on March 5. (RG)