The newly formed Thailand Professional Basketball League (TPBL) starts today! For most basketball fanatics in Thailand, the fact that there is basketball being played in Thailand should be a good enough reason to watch this competition, but if you still need an excuse to get yourself hyped up – I got you covered, fam.
Here are four reasons that might make you want to watch the TPBL just a bit more!
The Future is Here
If you want a glimpse of what the future might look like for the Thailand national team, better catch some TPBL games. In particular, catch the games of PEA and SWU.
The roster of SWU should be populated with players from Srinakarin Wirot University (SWU), a powerhouse at the collegiate level in Thailand. Probably the most interesting prospect in the batch is Natthaworn Banchathorn, a former member of the FIBA Asia U18 squad in 2016. There aren’t many players, regardless of age, that have the same level of confidence as the 20-year-old gunner. Whenever his all-around skill catches up with his confidence, he’ll be a joy to watch.
PEA’s side if jam-packed with players from Chulalongkorn University (CU). The school is not generally known as a strong basketball program in the past, but Krit Pairojpeerapaisarn (who coaches both the CU program and the PEA program) recently got the team all the way to a rare appearance at the annual University Games championship game (where they lost to none other than SWU). PEA already has 3 players from the previous FIBA U18 Asia Championship squad and the one you should keep your eye on is Pongsakorn Jiamsawad. The 19-year-old has already stepped up into PEA’s starting five after several years of playing at the professional level. It should be interesting to see how much further he can keep improving.
There are plenty other bright young talents on all TPBL teams and are a darn good reason to watch the league in action.
Home and Away Format
In the last couple of seasons, Thailand basketball has pretty much pinned himself to one stadium: GSB Stadium29. While it is a fine arena, playing in one place also led to limited reach to the fans.
The TPBL aims to widen their fanbase by playing in a home and away format for each team. The most intriguing venues in particular will be the Chantaburi PAO Stadium (Mono Scorpions) in Chantaburi and the Terminal Hall (Korasauras) in Nakhon Ratchasima. Having games played in these venues out of the vicinity of Bangkok means that those fans can now get a chances to see these basketball stars up close.
With each game being played in a different location, games get an additional storyline that fans can talk about or discuss. The TBL had a similar venue arrangement in 2014 with games being held at different locations each weekend in a circuit and fans have been longing for teams to go back to playing around the country ever since.
This format should be able to breath some new life into the Thailand basketball scene. The TPBL seems to acknowledge how important playing outside of Bangkok is, taking the opportunity to schedule their season opener in Nakhon Ratchasima on June 13.
Mono vs Hitech Rivalries
It feels weird that the rivalries between any team under the Mono umbrella and any Hitech affiliation hasn’t been really pushed by the league organizers. It’s as if the teams are trying to avoid admitting that there is a conflict among each other, which is really a shame since fiery competitive rivalries are major draw in sports league.
Even without much push from the media, Mono-Hitech games should always be circled as must-watch under any circumstances. The clubs have played in the TBL Finals for three straight seasons and the players have their own history against each; It’s the perfect set up for an everlasting rivalry.
Fans won’t have to wait for too long to get their first taste of the Mono-Hitech rivalry, as Hitech will host the Mono Warriors on the second game day, June 15.
First Champion Ever Crowned
It’s not every year a team gets the chance to be crowned as the first champions ever of a certain league. The all-time leader in championships won can always change but there always be only one team that can call themselves the “first ever TPBL champions”.
(I guess there is only one team that can call themselves the “second even TPBL champions” as well, but it just doesn’t have a cool ring to it, you know?)
(It also might not mean as much either since not a lot of people actually care who the first NBA champions were either. It was the Philadephia Warriors, by the way)
Still, it should be worth it to follow the TPBL for the entire season, just to watch as the story unfolds to reveal which team will go down in the record books as the first TPBL champion ever.