Amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the B. League has revamped its postseason schedule, it announced on Tuesday.
Late last month, the league decided to suspend regular-season contests until Wednesday, making them up later on by pushing back the start of the postseason.
Now, with a revised playoff calendar, the championship game was moved from May 9 to May 11. Because the new date is a Monday, the game will likely tip off at around 7 p.m.
The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds were originally set to be staged at the home sites of the higher-seeded teams in a best-of-three format. The quarterfinals were to be held between April 23 and 27, while the semifinals were scheduled for between May 1 and 5.
According to the revamped schedule, the quarterfinals will now be held on either May 6 or 7, while the semifinals were pushed back to May 9 at Yokohama Arena. Teams will compete in a single-elimination format for the quarterfinals and semifinals.
The second-division (B2) championship game will be held on May 16 at Katayanagi Arena in Tokyo’s Ota Ward. Originally, the champion was to be determined in a best-of-three format between May 1 and 5 at the higher-seeded club’s gym.
The league was forced to drastically alter its postseason schedule and format mainly because of arena availability.
B. League chairman Masaaki Okawa said that the circuit drew the new playoff schedule based on the first-division championship game as its top priority. He said that the league wanted to hold the marquee match at a large arena.
The league has booked Yokohama Arena, which drew 13,000 fans at the title match last year, for May 11 and 12, according to a league official.
The B2 semifinals will be played on May 12.
“We thought about the value of the final,” Okawa said. “We wanted to host it at a legitimate, big arena. Plus, we need a television broadcast. It’s got to be the biggest stage to decide the best team of Japan. And we moved the game to the 11th, which was the latest that it can be held, and then started planning for other (postseason) games.”
On Wednesday evening, the league will hold a news conference to address the issue of regular-season games and whether — or if — the season resumes this weekend. Okawa said that it would “be difficult” to host games with fans in attendance due to the coronavirus outbreak, and hinted that the option would be to play behind closed doors or to cancel games.
Okawa insisted that since his league is Japan’s only professional league that is held in the winter, it needs to always look to keep playing.
“If we were an amateur league, it would be easy for us (to cancel games),” Okawa said. “But we are a professional circuit. Our players and staff get paid with their games being played.”
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