Why Taiwanese Basketball Professional Leagues Are Collapsing?

During the COVID-19 period, the Taiwanese government is doing a great job keeping the infection number low and thus the local profession leagues in Taiwan such as CPBL(Chines Professional Baseball League) and SBL(Super Basketball League) is still playing when most leagues are not playing around February and March this year. Even NBA star Danny Green of the Los Angeles Lakers is watching SBL Finals online and did a live chat stream with the Yulon Luxgen Dinos point guard Marcus Keene. Though Taiwanese basketball caught every basketball fan in the world back when the pandemic got worse two months ago, SBL is now discussing and changing the regulations of the 2020–21 season and it seems that SBL is losing attention from the local fans once again. How did that happen and why Taiwanese basketball is collapsing?

The 2019–20 SBL regulations to the use of the foreign players are:

  1. Each SBL team are allowed to hire two foreign players(Usually from the USA) and two Asian(non-Taiwanese) players.
  2. The combination of the height of two foreign players has to be lower than 405 centimeters.
  3. The combination of the salary per month of two foreign players has to be lower than 30,000 US Dollars.
  4. The two foreign players are only allowed to play combined six quarters per game(Ex: There are two quarters are playing with one foreign player on the court and two quarters are playing with two foreigners). Also, only one foreign player is allowed to play in the fourth quarter.

But 2019–20 SBL season went pretty awful with no audience and attention at all before COVID-19 exploded(Sports fans had no choice but to watch SBL and CPBL back then). After this catastrophic season, SBL decided to change the 2020–21 season regulations to the use of the foreign players into:

  1. Each SBL team is allowed to hire one foreign player(Usually from the USA) and two Asian(non-Taiwanese) players.
  2. The height of that foreign player has to be lower than 203 centimeters.
  3. NEW RULE: Foreign students who played the UBA(University Basketball Association in Taiwan) for more than 3 years are allowed to join the SBL Draft with the locals together. More than that, the foreign students who entered the draft have to fill out a form to see if there is a possibility of those foreign students playing for the Chinese Taipei(Taiwan) national basketball team. That means if the foreign students choose to play in the end, they have to give up their original passport and become a Taiwanese.
  4. Each SBL team is allowed to draft only one foreign student from the UBA.

So, why most Taiwanese fans kept saying 2020–21 SBL season is Collapsing and doing huge damage to Taiwanese basketball?

  1. One foreign player does not make any difference to the competitiveness of SBL.

Taiwanese now understands what it is like to have two foreign players like CBA(China) or B.League(Japan) in the local professional league in Asia. To have a foreign point guard and a center in an Asia pro basketball team may cut down the time of the local players, but in the meantime, that strategy does push the locals to a higher level of competitiveness. They are forced to play in a more physical way and drive to avoid being blocked 2.1 meters tall center. And that is why most Asian leagues welcome one or two foreign players. But right now SBL is restricting one foreign player with a maximum height of 203 centimeters tall? I would say if it happens next season, SBL is out of their mind.

2. Foreign students from the UBA aren’t helping the national team and SBL.

Okay, we could tell what CTBA(Chinese Taipei Basketball Association) is trying to do here: Trying to fix the naturalized player problem and the SBL’s low attendance problem Taiwan has been had for a long time. Quincy Davis, the first naturalized player has been suffering back injuries and thus Taiwan needs the next naturalized player urgently. Yet, these UBA foreign students who accept the scholarships offered by universities in Taiwan are pretty raw with their basketball skills. Moreover, most of them never touched a basketball before they came to Taiwan. Universities in Taiwan recruited them simply because of their height and physique. So, even if those foreign students entered the draft and were picked by SBL teams, it is not doing any team or the national team’s favor. It wasn’t realistic in any point of view.

3. ASEAN Basketball League(ABL) is having a bigger impact than SBL imagined.

Currently, two pro basketball teams are playing in ABL in Taiwan: Formosa Dreamers and Fubon Braves. Though fans kept saying that ABL did nothing to help the local players grow because ABL allows three international players on the court, Dreamers and Braves do gain lots of attention and fans in Taiwan. However, in the COVID-19 era, ABL is falling apart at an incredibly fast speed because this league is playing games across multiple countries and relied on the sponsorship of Air Asia to fix the 2019–20 season so far. So, ABL is not going to be back on track anywhere sooner than SBL. Still, SBL is losing its attention to ABL.

In conclusion, Taiwanese basketball professional leagues are collapsing at the moment. However, CTBA is out of their mind and heading the wrong way of fixing SBL. People often say that the night is darkest before the dawn, but the dawn of Taiwanese basketball is yet to be found.

Writer for #SportsVision | Multimedia Journalist for #ChelseaFC soccer school Taiwan

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