The field of teams for the upcoming 2019 FIBA Asia Champions Cup is nearly complete, with five of the eight spots now filled.
Joining the list are two champion clubs who most recently qualified for the tournament after finishing as the two best teams at the East Inter-Sub Zone qualifiers in Thailand: Hitech Basketball Club of the Thailand Basketball League (TBL), and the Fubon Braves from Chinese Taipei’s Super Basketball League (SBL).
Fubon topped the qualifying tournament after finishing with a flawless 3-0 card, beating hosts Hitech Basketball Club in the final match. Both teams completely dismantled the other two squads in the tournament, Singapore Armed Forces Sports Association (SAFSA) and Punjab Police Sports, by a combined average of 53.5 points per game.
The Thai and Chinese Taipei representatives will be joining reigning champion teams from the ‘Big 3’ East Asian leagues that have automatic berths to the tournament, the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), B.League Japan, and the Korean Basketball League (KBL).
Back-to-back reigning Japanese titlists Alvark Tokyo will return to try and avenge their championship game defeat at the hands of Petrochimi Bandar Imam BC (Iran) last year, while nine-time Chinese league champions Guangdong Southern Tigers make their first return to the tournament since winning the Bronze in 1996.
Meanwhile, Ulsan Hyundai Mobis Phoebus, with seven KBL Championships to their name, will look to bring the trophy back home to South Korea since winning it 27 years ago, back when the tournament was still known as the Asian Basketball Club (ABC) Championships.
Apart from East Asia’s ‘Big Three’ professional leagues, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is the only other league to be granted an automatic berth to the Final 8, and while the Philippines has been one of the most active countries in FIBA competitions, they have yet to be represented by reigning professional league titlists in the past 28 editions of the Champions Cup.
While the San Miguel Beermen won the past two PBA conferences and are the de facto representatives, it still remains to be seen whether or not they will step up to the plate.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, two more teams from the Gulf and West Asia subzones will advance as they compete in the West Inter-Sub Zone qualifiers that will complete the cast of eight.
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