P. LEAGUE+ & T1 LEAGUE/Taiwan basketball heats up amid league merger rumors as offseason nears
Taipei, May 30 (CNA) The 2022-2023 Taiwan basketball scene draws to a close following the completion of the T1 League finals on May 21 and announcement of the finals schedule for the P.LEAGUE+ (PLG), as rumors swirl about upcoming changes and the possible merger of the two professional leagues.
The P.LEAGUE+ (PLG) officially announced the schedule of the best-of-seven finals between the Taipei Fubon Braves and the New Taipei Kings on Saturday right after the Kings outlasted the Formosa Taishin Dreamers 108-100 in Taichung, with the final series set to take place from Saturday to as late as June 16.
The finals will determine whether the two-time defending champion Braves continue their dominance of the three-year league or the Kings can win their first crown.
However, with the finals' first game around the corner, there have been several rumors that seem likely to spice up the offseason, one of which suggests there are ongoing talks about the potential merger of the PLG and the T1 LEAGUE this summer and Taishin Bank stopping its sponsorship of the Dreamers next season.
Asked to comment on the possibility of a merger, the PLG chief executive officer, Blackie Chen (陳建州), said it remains a possibility when attending a public event Monday.
"I'm willing to sit down and talk about anything as along as the arrangements are beneficial to Taiwan basketball," Chen said, adding that the public should focus on the finals for now.
That remark could signal an important change in the position of the PLG side, which has previously been vocally negative whenever the issue was brought up.
In a social media post in late March, for example, Chen highlighted the PLG's efforts at improving the environment for Taiwan basketball, using a Chinese phrase that suggested the two leagues should continue working as two separate entities.
The post was widely regarded as a response to a remark by Chiu Ta-tsung (邱大宗), a senior basketball coach who suggested that behind the scenes the government is keen to promote a merger between the two six-team leagues.
As for the Dreamers' sponsorship next season, Chen said many local companies are staunch fans of the league and looking for an opportunity to get involved.
Recently, individuals familiar with the situation have indicated that Taishin Bank intends to stop its sponsorship of the Taichung-based club in order to take over the TaiwanBeer HeroBears in the T1 LEAGUE next season, but Chen said he had not been informed of any such change by the franchise.
Meanwhile, the T1 LEAGUE, which crowned the New Taipei CTBC DEA as its latest champions, announced on Monday the final list of regular season MVP candidates, featuring the HeroBears' reigning MVP Chiang Yu-an (蔣淯安) as well as DEA small forward Mohanned al Bachir Gadiaga and point guard Lin Wei-han (林韋翰).
Lin led the league in most assists (10) and steals (2.9) per game during the regular season. In addition to being named the league's Defensive Player of the Year, the 32-year-old veteran also made it to the league's All Defensive First Team and All-T1 LEAGUE First Team.
Already the league finals MVP, Lin could see his impressive 2022-23 season conclude with one more honor at an awards ceremony to be held in Taipei on Thursday, when the winners of Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player and Regular Season MVP awards will be announced.
Also on Monday, the T1 LEAGUE announced plans to change its draft process this summer, when teams will choose their picks team by team as is common elsewhere, instead of letting the clubs announce their picks simultaneously round by round as the league did over the past two years.
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