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MANILA, Philippines – Lucky Cebuanos will soon get a taste of NBA-caliber action right in the comfort of their island home.
The East Asia Super League (EASL) announced on Thursday, February 1, that Hoops Dome in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu will host the first-ever Final Four playoffs of its new home-and-away season this March 8 and 10.
Former NBA breakout star Jeremy Lin is undisputedly the top player to watch as his Group B-leading New Taipei Kings of Taiwan’s P. League+ will likely take on Group A’s second seed Anyang Jung Kwan Jang Red Boosters of the Korean Basketball League (KBL) in the knockout semifinal on March 8.
Notably, the reigning KBL and EASL champion Anyang may also roll out Filipino import Rhenz Abando in its return to the Philippines, as the Gilas Pilipinas star’s rehabilitation from a harrowing spine injury is expected to run only until the first few weeks of February, barring setbacks.
Meanwhile, Group A’s undefeated leader Chiba Jets of the Japan B. League are expected to continue leaning on former MVP Yuki Togashi and will likely take on Group B’s No. 2 team Seoul SK Knights of the KBL in the other semifinal match.
Although he has only seen spot minutes with his new team, former UAAP Mythical Five member Juan Gomez de Liaño will surely be Seoul’s top attraction in its arrival to Cebu next month.
When the semifinal dust settles, Cebu will then see two more games, the third-place game and winner-take-all final, on March 10.
This year’s Final Four champion will be $1 million richer, the runner-up will get $500,000, and the third-place team will earn $250,000.
“Cebu is an incredible venue for the first EASL Final Four. It has some of the most passionate basketball fans in the Philippines. The Hoops Dome is a great arena that will be packed with local and traveling fans,” said EASL CEO Henry Kerins.
“This is an amazing tourist destination – we are excited to showcase Cebu, including the magical resort island of Mactan, and the beautiful culture of the Philippines to our fans across the region. The Final Four is going to be a world-class sports entertainment experience.”
The Philippines, however, will have no EASL team representatives on home soil as both the TNT Tropang Giga and the Meralco Bolts of the PBA lagged to last place in their respective groups and out of contention.
Ticket sales for the Final Four will start soon on TicketMAX. Further information will be published on the EASL website and social media channels. – Rappler.com