Kings ready to join new basketball champion league
Japan’s two bickering professional basketball leagues finally have pulled their act together and are starting a new joint professional championship league from Oct. 2016.
The schism simmered for years finally resulting in the world governing body of basketball, FIBA, slapping a suspension on the Japan Basketball Association, meaning Japanese national teams were banned from international competitions, including the Olympics. FIBA rules require that basketball in a country must be run under full control of one governing entity, and that has not been the case in Japan.
Applications from the existing teams to enter the new Basketball Japan League have been accepted starting Apr. 3rd. 24 teams from the National Basketball League (NBL) and TK-bj League, including the Ryukyu Golden Kings, have already applied. The deadline for applications is the end of April, and after a review by officials, the teams invited to enter are decided by end of May.
According to an official, a total of 46 teams in Japan are eligible to apply, and 18 teams in addition to the 24 above, are considering an entry.
A general incorporated association, the Japan Professional Basketball League, which will run the league, has been founded, with Saburo Kawabuchi appointed its chairman.
Tatsuro Kimura, the general manager of the Ryukyu Golden Kings, says, “We want to create and contribute to more active Japanese basketball scene with our team commanding the highest number of fans in Japan. There will be the 1st league and 2nd league in the new top league, and of course, we aim to get into the 1st league.”
Another point is that one of the entry requirements to the 1st league is to have a home court with seats for at least 5,000 spectators. Kimura says there are some local municipalities, which are vying to become the Kings’ official hometown. “We will have talks with them, and will pass this requirement.”
The Kings gets more than 100,000 fans coming to their games each year, and the team has operated in the black for five consecutive years. Kimura says, “Our next challenge is to expand our fan base to not only our core target but attract more casual spectators, too. We will take steps to attract more and more fans to see and enjoy our games.”