Fans play their part in EASL 2023-24 season opener

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Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) side TNT Tropang Giga has said that travelling to away games in the East Asia Super League (EASL) basketball competition is going to take some getting used to, with fans playing their part.

EASL is aiming to become one of the world’s top three professional basketball leagues by 2025, and combines the best teams from Greater China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines. 

This week’s 2023-24 season opening match saw Japan B.League’s Chiba Jets beat TNT 93-75, in Group A. 

TNT Topang Giga head coach Jodi Lastimosa discussed after the game the difference between competing in TNT’s domestic league, and travelling for EASL games. 

“Traveling home and away in this situation is different. We don’t do that in the Philippines. We don’t play home and away in the Philippines, we only play in Manila,” he said. 

“It’s one thing that we need to adjust to. It’s not something that’s going to affect us totally. It’s going to factor in. That’s the reason we came in here on Monday [before the game on Wednesday], to have at least two days to kind of settle down here in Chiba.

“But it’s a situation we are in. We’re not used to that, but we have to get used to it.”

He added that the impact of fans and the atmosphere at EASL home and away games is also something the team has to get used to, and that home games will draw in fans of not just TNT, but also basketball and the PBA. 

“We play here in Chiba and we are going up against the [fans] of Chiba only. But if we go to the Philippines…We don’t have any home court in the Philippines. Probably the whole of the people in Metro Manila will be cheering for us,” said Lastimosa. 

“So that’s a huge advantage. And we’re hoping that we will pull in a lot of fans, not only TNT fans, but that the fans of the PBA will be there to cheer for us. I think there’s going to be a major effect in that regard, because we’ll have a lot more cheering for us than over here.”