Basketball / B. League

B. League, Korean Basketball League cement new partnership

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

The B. League and Korean Basketball League have agreed to a partnership looking to develop their player development as well as improving their products on and off the court.

The commissioners of the two men’s professional circuits officially signed the agreement before the B. League title game on Saturday at Yokohama Arena.

The agreement started taking shape when B. League commissioner Maasaki Okawa visited a KBL playoff game at the invitation of the South Korean league last month.

According to Okawa, both entities have agreed to eventually accomplish three things:

1. Have teams from both leagues compete more.

2. Potentially sending Japanese B. League players to compete in the KBL by taking advantage of the roster spots designated for Asian players, who don’t count as regular imports like players from other nations such as the U.S.

3. Have the leagues collaborate on youth player development.

Okawa noted Japan has historically been behind its East Asian rival in both basketball and soccer and insisted the Japanese league is hoping to help the development of both the B. League and the Japanese national teams.

“I’ve seen two playoff games of the KBL in person,” Okawa said. “And I’ve gotten the impression they make more physical contact and play tough games. That’s exactly what we need to improve on.”

Okawa added that the average salary for KBL players is higher than for B. League hoopsters, and that he doesn’t mind if a Japanese player competed on the Korean Peninsula in order to be a better player.

“It’s possible for us to see a Japanese player who goes over there and develops his physicality,” Okawa said.

KBL commissioner Lee Jung-dae was eager to see the B. League title contest in person for the first team, saying he was “looking forward to it.”

“I’m impressed with the great arena and the fevered atmosphere the fans have created,” Lee said. “Hopefully we’ll learn from them and get more people enthusiastic about basketball.”

The relationship between the leagues kicked off when the Kawasaki Brave Thunders and the KBL’s Anyang KGC played in the East Asian Club Championship at Yoyogi Gymnasium in January of 2016, during the B. League’s inaugural season. Kawasaki edged the KBL side 83-80.