(Left to right) Kue-Yu Chou (Taipei Fubon Braves), Hee-Jong Yang (Anyang KGC), Yuta Tabuse Utsunomiya Brex), Kelly Williams (TNT) Matt Bayer (CEO of EASL), Bukyung Choi (Seoul SK Knights), Duncan Reid (Bay Area Dragons), Naoki Tashiro (Ryukyu Golden Kings), and Chris Ross (SMB)
MANILA — San Miguel Beer may find its hands full this coming Thursday (02 March 2023) as the Beermen battle Ryukyu Golden Kings in the East Asia Super League (EASL) Champions Week at the Brex Arena Utsunomiya.
Brex Arena Utsunomiya is an arena in Utsunomiya, Tochigi, Japan. According to Wikipedia, it is the home arena of the Link Tochigi Brex of the B.League, Japan’s professional basketball league.
The showdown between the reigning PBA Philippine Cup champion and the Golden Kings is set at 6:30 p.m. (Manila time), just after the curtain raiser between Seoul SK Knights and recent Manila visitor Bay Area Dragons.
Two very familiar faces will be at the Golden Kings’ side in Gilas Pilipinas pool member Carl Tamayo and PBA three-time Best Import Allen Durham.
The match serves as the debut of the 6-foot-7 Tamayo with Ryukyu, which recently signed him to a lucrative three-year contract after playing two seasons with the University of the Philippines.
“It’s my first pro debut in the EASL and I’m very excited,” said the 22-year-old Filipino when the Golden Kings presented him during a media presser.
“I really prepared myself for this moment. I’m thrilled to play with my teammates and represent the Kings.”
Durham, who previously played for the Meralco Bolts, is one of three imports officially in the lineup of the Golden Kings along with Josh Duncan and Jack Cooley.
The 34-year-old, do-it-all Durham was in the country a week ago to visit his former teammates and watch a game of Meralco against TNT in the Governors’ Cup.
San Miguel meanwhile, will be reinforced by Cameron Clark and Jessie Govan.
Six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez, fresh from their stint with Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers, banner the local side of the Beermen, who also lined up high-scoring guard Terrence Romeo.
The three-time PBA scoring king has not suited up for San Miguel in the ongoing conference due to a back injury, but will finally break in by coach Jorge Gallent.
The debut game of TNT against Japan B. League champion Utsunomiya Brex is being played as of press time.
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, Board Chairman Ricky Vargas, and Barangay Ginebra governor Alfrancis Chua meanwhile arrive in Utsunomiya late Wednesday for the EASL games.