China reclaimed its spot as the top team in Asia, the Korean Basketball League is facing all sorts of problems, and Japan is progressing in its basketball makeover.
After covering the 2015 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Nevada, I was in dire need of a sabbatical. It’s been nearly three-months since my last post, during that time I’ve inquired a change of scenery. I’ll be away from South Korea as I’ve picked up new employment in Beijing, China. Nevertheless, I’ll still be keeping tabs on everything going on over there. Let’s get right into it. Here’s a short rundown on what’s been going on the past couple of months in the world of Asian basketball.
The Korean Basketball League has already begun its season without 15 of its top domestic players and without a new rookie draft class. The KBL commissioner just couldn’t wait any longer and wanted his basketball season now. That’s totally untrue. But it would be the only valid reason to why he would begin his league without the entire national team roster or domestic rookies.
The real reason is the commissioner doesn’t want his league’s playoff schedule to overlap with the beginning of the Korean Basketball Organization’s regular season. In Korea, baseball is the only live sport that actually matters therefore all broadcasters immediately shifts to baseball once the league starts. Last season, the commissioner begged the sports broadcasters to show their KBL finals. The broadcasting station agreed, but only if the KBL moves its games back from 7 p.m. to 5 p.m. (most Koreans don’t get off work until 6 p.m. making it impossible to actually go to or watch the game). This resulted in abysmal ratings and terrible ticket sales. So in a nutshell, that’s why the KBL now begins its regular season two months before anybody else.
So I’m back in Beijing, a place I’m very familiar with spending six months here witnessing Stephon Marbury and the Beijing Ducks win their second title in 2014. Yes, Marbury is still here in Beijing. And if you really want to know what he’s up to, check out Jared Zwerling’s Bleacher Report feature. You can read Zwerling’s piece here, it’s highly recommended.
A big congratulations to China in capturing the 2015 FIBA Asia title. A healthy Yi Jianlian proved to be the biggest difference – Yi would win MVP honors – as China now automatically qualifies for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
The CBA season is underway, and a lot of teams are already looking at alternatives for their foreign players. Maybe next year, the CBA could do like the Korean league and host a foreign players draft in Las Vegas. On second thought, maybe not.
The Japanese Basketball Association (JBA) have made the necessary changes for FIBA to lift the ban set on the country who will host the 2020 Olympic Games. As of 2016, the NBL (Japan) and the BJ-League will merge a three-division 72-team league called the Japan Professional Basketball League.
I don’t know what’s going on with the Oita Ehime HeatDevils, but they just can’t seem to find fans for their games. Ed Odeven from Japan Times reports that their average home attendance number is 330 fans per game. Middle schools in the states get more fans than that. As for the league itself, 35-year-old Josh Smith of Salem, Oregon seems to be a force to be reckoned with. Smith played for a couple of NBA teams before taking his talents overseas.
Future plans for Basketball Buddha
Content is on its way. I’ve got a few feature stories lined up ready to give the outside world a look inside Asian basketball.