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TNT, San Miguel face early tests

TNT kicks off the Philippine side’s campaign in the East Asia Super League Champions Week as it battles defending B. League champion Utsunomiya Brex on the opening night of the regional league on 1 March at the Brex Arena.

The 7:30 p.m. encounter (Japan time) serves as the main game of the opener’s doubleheader that will have Anyang KGC featuring Filipino import Rhenz Abando taking on Taipei Fubon Braves in the curtain raiser at 5 p.m.

The following day, Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer makes its debut against another B League runner up Ryukyu Golden Kings, even as Commissioner’s Cup guest team Bay Area Dragons tackle the Seoul SK Knights in the other game.

Utsunomiya will host the first six games of the eight-game group stage, before the tournament travels to Okinawa, where the Golden Kings host the remaining two group stage games, before proceeding with the championship match and third-place game at their newly-built home, the Okinawa City Multi-Purpose Stadium, which will also serve as the venue for the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

“EASL is excited to hold Champions Week in Japan, in collaboration with the B League after over three years of no games on the court due to Covid-19,” said EASL chief executive officer Matt Beyer.

“Basketball continues to rise in popularity in Japan and across the region, and EASL Champions Week will provide a foundation for our home-and-away season beginning in October 2023.”

The eight teams have been divided into two groups of four teams each, with Group A comprised of San Miguel, Anyang KGC, Taipeh Fubon Braves, and Ryukyu Golden Kings, while Group B includes TNT, Seoul SK Knights, Bay Area Dragons and Utsunomiya Brex.

But owing to time constraints, each team will only play two games during the group stage.

The rest of the group stage will have TNT vs SK Knights at 5 p.m., and the Dragons against the Brex at 7:30 p.m. on 3 March.

The Beermen then open hostilities in Okinawa by going up against Abando and KGC on 4 March in the first game, followed by the Kings taking on the Braves at 7:30 p.m.

The eight teams have been divided into two groups of four teams each, with Group A comprised of San Miguel, Anyang KGC, Taipeh Fubon Braves, and Ryukyu Golden Kings, while Group B includes TNT, Seoul SK Knights, Bay Area Dragons and Utsunomiya Brex.

But owing to time constraints, each team will only play two games during the group stage.

The top two teams in each group dispute the championship and the $250,000 prize money on 5 March while the two best teams in each group will battle for a third place worth $50,000.
The runner-up, meanwhile, takes home $100,000.

“We are very excited to host the highly-anticipated EASL Champions Week on our home courts in Japan,” B. League chairman Shinji Shimada said.

“We are pleased to be able to hold EASL Champions Week as a home event for the Ryukyu Golden Kings and Utsunomiya Brex. I hope Japanese basketball fans will enjoy it and support the teams during their B. League season and the EASL Champions Week as the two B. League teams are aiming to be number one in East Asia.”

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