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How Popular Is Basketball in Asia?

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How Popular Is Basketball in Asia

Asians did not learn the art of the jump shot from a professional basketball coach. YMCA missionaries introduced the game to China, the Philippines, and Korea in the 1890s. These players participated in basketball’s first games in Springfield, Massachusetts, making them pioneers of the sport rather than just some amateurs.

Basketball was a common sport among students in cities like Shanghai in the 1920s, and basketball hoops soon began to appear there. Korea established a basketball federation in Seoul in 1925, not too far behind the hype.

With over 300 million Chinese regularly following the NBA, Asia appears to have basketball’s largest fan base on paper, making Asia the best league’s home territory.

So, how popular is basketball in Asia?

The Birth of FIBA Asia

Asian nations are seldom seen as serious competitors on the global stage. The USA and European teams are consistently the two strongest forces. That didn’t prevent the Philippines from taking home the bronze medal at the 1954 FIBA World Cup, though. The 1910s saw the arrival of the sport on the island nation’s beaches, and it quickly gained popularity.

Six basketball officials from various Asian nations met in a Tokyo hotel in 1958 where the notion for the creation of the Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) was first explored. The inaugural Asian Basketball Confederation championship was held in Manila, Philippines, two years later, in 1960.

The competition, which featured seven nations and had a number of goals—including World Cup and Olympic qualification—was attended by those nations. However, it also made it possible for Asian nations to engage in competition under a format approved by the world basketball federation.

Small Circle of Winners

In the ABC championship’s early years, the Philippines dominated, taking three of the first four competitions. After 1975, when Manila officials determined they would only send amateurs to participate in the ABC, the balance of power, however, changed. This choice gave China a wide window of opportunity. China has won the award 16 times since that period.

In 2005, the competition’s name was changed to FIBA Asia Championship. The on-court image was unaffected by the name change. China kept up its dominance, with South Korea finishing second every time the events were held. Japan has also won a title, however South Korea has managed to win two.

The Philippines has won the FIBA Asia Championship five times, however Iran and Australia have recently emerged as formidable opponents. Iran has won three championships since 2007, while Australia now holds the title after ascending to the throne in 2017. The following confrontation is slated to take place in Jakarta, Indonesia, in July 2022.

Professional Leagues on the Continent

The perception that basketball is not well-liked in Asia is not supported by the facts. The only American league with a sizable fan base on the continent is the NBA. The Chinese Basketball Association, the Japanese B.League, the Thailand Basketball League, the Korean Basketball League, and the Philippine Basketball Association are just a few of the professional leagues that operate in the region. Each of these leagues features professional teams, some of which have produced athletes who have gone on to play in the NBA.

Teams have the chance to showcase their abilities outside of domestic league play in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup. Since 1981, the top teams have competed to determine the champion. Alvark Tokyo is the current defending champion.

The competition is fairly balanced historically, but Iranian teams have recently gained the upper hand, winning six games since 2007.

Basketball’s Future Is Bright in Asia

In China, which has around 300 million basketball enthusiasts, there are now two players from Japan on NBA rosters, and roughly a dozen more have travelled great distances to play in the top league.

Another indication that the sport is receiving the push it needs to engage more young people in Asia is the inclusion of the FIBA Asia Champions Cup winners in the FIBA Intercontinental Cup, which will begin in 2023.

Basketball has also seen an increase in popularity in Thailand and Vietnam in recent years. With the development of online sportsbooks, the number of fans is growing daily. Some people think that betting on basketball will help the sport attract more fans.

Asians will have to be aware about teams as they place bets on the results of regional leagues, which will elevate basketball to greater heights in Asia.

Read more: Most unbreakable records in NBA history

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