Thursday, October 09, 2003

Focus shifts to SBL

Amid all the criticism and turmoil following the 11-th place finish in the Asian Championships, Taiwanese basketball is looking toward the next stage – Super Basketball League, which will start on November 21st and try to bring back the love of the game from disappointed local fans.

The current annual competitions hosted by CTBA – the President Cup and the A-League Regular Season – are not popular among local fans, evidenced by all those empty seats in the stands. Obviously, Taiwanese basketball needs some changes.

With the sponsorship from ESPN Taiwan and NIKE Taiwan, the idea of innovating Taiwanese basketball scene becomes possible. Eight teams in the Division I are cut down to seven teams, with the Military Team shutting down. All players who are serving military obligations are allowed to re-unite with their original teams.

The main purpose of the change is to make the competition level stronger and create fans’ interests and following. ESPN and NIKE will take care of the marketing part of the project.

On paper, the future of SBL looks promising to me. With more than 20 player transfers, virtually no team will be guaranteed a win on any given night.

But you have to worry about the league after Taiwan NT’s poor showing in the Asian Championships. Fans blasted the association, asked the president step down, and screamed out loud for the total reform.

They simply couldn’t accept the fact that Taiwan, which used to be one of Asia’s basketball powerhouses, are only good enough for the 11th-place right now after finishing for 7th-place two years ago.

And this group of young players are the best ones Taiwanese basketball has to offer in the history of Taiwanese basketball, the fans are told by the association in 2001, when CTBA decided to get rid of the veterans and fill the NT with all younger kids.

Will fans’ anger translate to sorry attendance of SBL? It remains to be seen. It will be up to the fans to decide whether they want to give Taiwanese basketball one more chance.