East Asia Super League

Linsanity, rivalries mark EASL Final Four showdown in Cebu 

Philip Matel

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Linsanity, rivalries mark EASL Final Four showdown in Cebu 

GEAR UP. Former NBA star Jeremy Lin gets ready for practice at the Hoops Dome in Lapu Lapu City, Cebu.


Intense regional basketball action rolls off in Cebu as the East Asia Super League Final Four pits two rival South Korean teams, a Japanese powerhouse, and a Taiwanese squad bannering former NBA sensation Jeremy Lin

CEBU, Philippines — The East Asia Super League (EASL) wraps up what it hopes to be a regional basketball highlight as top-notch club teams vie for the championship starting in the knockout Final Four here on Friday, March 8.

The semifinal battles tip off at 5 pm at the Hoops Dome in Lapu Lapu City, featuring two rival South Korean teams, a Japanese powerhouse, and a Taiwanese squad bannering former NBA sensation Jeremy Lin.

Lin, though, will likely be relegated as team cheerleader as the former New York Knicks star remains hampered by a plantar fascia injury he sustained last January.

Taking Lin’s spot is former NBA player Austin Daye, who had already suited up for the Kings from 2022-2023.

The champion squad will rake in US $1 million, the first-runner up $500,000, and the third-placer $250,000.

“It is really a historic moment for Asian basketball,” said EASL chief executive officer Henry Kerins. “We believe that in 10, 20, 30 years, basketball fans across Asia will still be talking about who won the historic East Asia Super League 2024.”

“Whoever claimed the title this week will go down in history,” he added.

In the first semifinal matchup at 5 pm, defending champion Anyang Jung Kwan Jang Red Boosters and Seoul SK Knights collide in a rematch of the EASL Champions League and Korean Basketball League (KBL) finals series.

Rhenz Abando, the high-flying Filipino swingman playing as an import for Anyang, remains doubtful after feeling some pain on his back, days after getting the medical clearance to play once again.

“I haven’t played for a long time but we really want to win, and we’ll do our best to get it,” said Abando, who suffered a back injury last December while playing in the KBL.

On the other side is a retooled Seoul squad, but the SK Knights will be without their own Filipino reinforcement, Juan Gomez de Liaño, who was left behind in Korea as he recovers from a season-ending finger surgery.

In the other Final Four duel at 8 pm, 2019 NBA champion guard Jeremy Lin looks to earn another basketball championship, this time alongside his brother Joseph.

Both play with the New Taipei Kings, the second-placers of the Taiwan P. League+, but will face an uphill battle as they face the Chiba Jets, the Japan B. League runners-up. 

“This is the first time that we’d be on the professional stage together, our goal is to win two championships hopefully, and it will be a dream come true for us,” said Joseph Lin.

Jeremy Lin, the first NBA player of Taiwanese descent, took the league by storm during a phenomenal run dubbed “Linsanity” in 2012, where he starred for the New York Knicks over a stretch of games, including a 38-point showing against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Eventually ending up as an NBA journeyman, Lin also played for the Houston Rockets, Lakers, Charlotte Hornets, Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks, and Toronto Raptors. 

Chiba, on the other hand, remains a force to be reckoned with in Japanese basketball, having played in four Japan B. League finals since the 2017-2018 season.

The Jets are led by Japanese national team premier playmaker, Yuki Togashi, who was one of the integral cogs in Japan’s successful bid of claiming an outright spot in the 2024 Tokyo Olympics.

Chiba may be at a disadvantage, though, as the team just arrived on Thursday evening, having played on Wednesday, a 95-86 loss to the Gunma Crane Thunders in the Japan B. League. 

No Philippine team reached the Final Four as local bets TNT Tropang Giga and the Meralco Bolts of the PBA finished at the bottom of their groups in the eliination round. – Rappler.com

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