The battle for basketball in Asia: upstart Macau tournament ruffles Fiba feathers
World governing body refuses to recognise The Super 8: Macau Basketball Invitational event featuring top teams from China, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan
Plans to stage an international exhibition basketball tournament in Macau next month featuring eight of the top club teams in Asia have fallen foul of the sport’s world governing body.
The Super 8: Macau Basketball Invitational is scheduled for September 20-24 at the 4,000-plus capacity Studio City, but organisers said the Geneva-based International Basketball Federation (Fiba) is refusing to give it official recognition in an attempt to put pressure on the teams to withdraw.
Fiba has yet to respond to requests for comment.
Matt Beyer, chief executive of The Super 8: Macau Basketball Invitational, said it has been in a legal dispute with Fiba for the past two weeks, resulting in them rebranding the event from its original name, the “Asia League”.
“They [Fiba] feel as if using the word ‘Asia’ comes under their jurisdiction, and they were uneasy about the possible creation of a ‘league’,” said Beyer, a China-based sports agent who worked as a translator for Yi Jianlian at the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA 10 years ago.
Organisers said they have contracted eight teams from last season’s top four sides in the leading professional leagues of China, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan to feature in the warm-up event before their new league campaigns begin.
But Beyer said a letter from Fiba claimed it “does not grant recognition” to the competition.
“They were uneasy we were coming out so aggressively with this event and going into their territory,” said Beyer.
Fiba’s relationship with the NBA in the US is largely limited to international competitions and charity programmes, while they have been involved in a dispute for the past two years with the EuroLeague for control of the Europe-wide club basketball competition.
“So they’re really trying to protect Asia, and I think we rustled them a little bit the wrong way with the way we branded the event,” said Beyer.
Fiba also said in its letter it is “common knowledge” the planned Macau event coincides with its own Asia Champions Cup from September 22 to 30 in Shenzhen.
The body claims the Asian Champions Cup is “the highest club competition in the region crowning annually the respective club champion”.
“One of the requirements for an international basketball competition to be recognised is to respect the Fiba calendar,” the letter said.
Time-stamped screen shots sent to the Post by Beyer appear to show there was no such event advertised on the Fiba calendar, website, or Facebook page before August 5, the day after he responded to Fiba’s letter.
“The next day it was on their website,” said Beyer, who insists The Super 8: Macau Basketball Invitational will go ahead regardless.
“Their event is very different from ours, anyway. I don’t even consider there’s a conflict, because they have more teams from the Gulf States, Central Asia, the Middle East, and then two spots for East Asian teams in their tournament format. We’re not really a competing property.”