Chair­man pleased with bj League, NBL merger launch

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Ja­panese bas­ket­ball chiefs said Fri­day they will merge two pro­fes­sional leagues af­ter years of pre­var­i­ca­tion that saw the sport’s global bosses threaten to kick the coun­try out of in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

“To­day we’re pleased to an­nounce the launch ... of the new Ja­pan Pro­fes­sional Bas­ket­ball League,” Saburo Kawabuchi, chair­man of a 10-mem­ber task force on the is­sue told a Tokyo press con­fer­ence.

The In­ter­na­tional Bas­ket­ball Fed­er­a­tion (FIBA) had warned Ja­pan that if it con­tin­ued to have two sep­a­rate leagues it might be barred from the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics.

“Af­ter FIBA threat­ened such a strict mea­sure ... we de­cided to merge two leagues for the sake of play­ers and for the sake of the devel­op­ment of Ja­panese bas­ket­ball as a whole,” said Kawabuchi, a for­mer chair­man of soc­cer’s J-League.

FIBA had for years asked the Ja­pan Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (JBA), which over­sees the game do­mes­ti­cally, to stream­line the sport.

In Novem­ber it threat­ened con­se­quences if the com­mu­nity-based bj League and the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball League, com­pris­ing cor­po­rate-spon­sored teams, were not made into a sin­gle league.

Lo­cal me­dia re­ported that the two sep­a­rate leagues had wanted to keep their dif­fer­ent iden­ti­ties and ethoses.

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