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April 2024
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PREVIEW: Basketball Champions League Asia Qualifiers Round 1

ULAANBAATAR (Mongolia) - After much anticipation, the Basketball Champions League Asia (BCL Asia) will be ushering in a new era of club competition in the continent with Round 1 of its Qualifiers all set to get going this week at the UG Arena in the Mongolian capital.

A total of eight teams will be battling for the right to make it to the next stage of the qualifying rounds later in Jakarta. For sure, most fans are curious as to which squads are coming in as the favorites, as the underdogs, and whatnot.

Action tips off on April 3 at 12:30 local time featuring the NS Matrix Deers and the Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team, and here's what you all can expect before the tilt begins.

Group A

# Team P W L % Last 5 For Agt +/- FA AA  
1 PHB Prawira Harum Bandung 0 0 0 0   0 0 0 0 0 0
2 NSM NS Matrix Deers 0 0 0 0   0 0 0 0 0 0
3 HKE Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team 0 0 0 0   0 0 0 0 0 0
4 BIM Bishrelt Metal 0 0 0 0   0 0 0 0 0 0

The favorite: Prawira Harum Bandung

Indonesia are coming in well-represented in the BCL Asia Qualifiers and Prawira Harum Bandung are one of the two teams carrying the flag for the country.

The club is entering the tourney as the reigning Indonesian Basketball League (IBL) champions after conquering the 2023 season to win their league crown and are definitely looking to add more to their success by making it to the Round 2 of the Qualifiers.

They're coming in hot, too, after winning three straight in the ongoing IBL season following the return of Brandone Francis. The Dominican winger is one of those expected to lead Prawira Harum Bandung in Round 1 together with another pros in Antonio Hester and James Gist.

The crew isn't falling short of veteran presence thanks to well-known marksman Sandy Kurniawan, who's serving as a guiding light to a team filled with young hoopers such as Kelvin Sanjaya, Yudha Saputera, and Fernando Manansang, to name a few.

The underdog: NS Matrix Deers

The Deers dominated the inaugural Major Basketball League (MBL) of Malaysia to become the domestic league's champions for a second time straight. After going 13-3 in the regular season, they swept KL Aseel in the Semi-Finals before beating the Southern Johor Tigers via sweep as well to capture the title.

Jordan Tolbert starred in that same season as the Regular Season MVP and finished with per-game averages of 22.4 points, 14.7 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game - albeit with a different team. NS Matrix have recruited him for the BCL Asia Qualifiers and look to lead the pack together with new recruits Damion Rosser and Taishaun Johnson.

Also part of the crew are Malaysia national team veterans such as Kuek Tian Yuen, Wong Yi Hou, and Ting Chun Hong - the same trio that bannered Malaysia's campaign during the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Pre-Qualifiers early last year.

The biggest concern for this squad, however, is that the MBL season ended last January, and NS Matrix haven't seen much on-court action except for a few tune-up games leading up to the BCL Asia Qualifiers. How will that affect them? It's for all of us to find out.

The pivotal game: Bishrelt Metal versus Hong Kong Eastern

It is the penultimate game of the Group Phase and the meeting between Bishrelt Metal and Hong Kong Eastern could potentially be an important one, for it could be crucial in completing the cast for the Qualification to Round 2 on Saturday, given how tough the group is.

The advantage should be on Bishrelt Metal being the hometown team, plus the fact that they are just a few weeks removed from a runner-up finish in 2023-24 The League.

They beefed up their squad, too, recently signing former Nigerian national team stalwart Daniel Ochefu and bringing back Christopher Blake. Other key acquisitions for the squad before the Qualifiers include youngsters Tulga Otgondari and Gatsolmon Bolor-Erdene.

Not to be left out, of course, are Hong Kong Eastern, a team that's not only made a mark in Hong Kong, China's growing basketball scene but in the East Asian region as well.

The reigning HKBA A1 Division champions will be led by long-time key pieces such as Adam Xu, Christopher McLaughin, Dominic Gilbert, and Chan Siu Wing.

Group B

# Team P W L % Last 5 For Agt +/- FA AA  
1 HIT Hi-Tech Basketball Club 0 0 0 0   0 0 0 0 0 0
2 UXB Ulaanbaatar Xac Broncos 0 0 0 0   0 0 0 0 0 0
3 ADR Adroit club 0 0 0 0   0 0 0 0 0 0
4 PJB Pelita Jaya Basketball 0 0 0 0   0 0 0 0 0 0

The favorite: Pelita Jaya Basketball

Pelita Jaya Basketball are coming in not just the favorites in Group B but for the entire Qualifiers as well, given their major signings in recent weeks.

The 2023-24 IBL runners-up announced last March 20 that it picked up Philippines men's team star Justin Brownlee, bolstering a squad that already features Indonesia men's national team regulars such as Brandon Jawato and Andakara Prastawa, to name a few.

It's worth noting, too, that they've been one of the top teams in the ongoing IBL season. Pelita Jaya are currently at no. 4 in the team standings with an 8-1 record.

The underdog: Adroit Club

Known Singaporean players make part of the Adroit Club such as Wong Wei Long, Ng Hanbin, and Larry Liew, and the trio is all set to help the team continue their success into a bigger stage after reigning supreme in the Singaporean National Basketball League (NBL).

But it's intriguing, to say the least, how the team fares in what could be considered a 'group of death.' Aside from the loaded Pelita Jaya, they will have to compete against Mongolian league champions Ulaanbaatar Xac Broncos and Hi-Tech Basketball Club of Thailand.

The Broncos, for one, are filled with veteran internationalists such as star forward Sanchir Tungalag, Tommy Bilguun, and the up-and-coming Anand Aruinbold, to name some.

Same goes with Hi-Tech, which has the celebrated trio of Freddie Lish, Chanatip Jakrawan, and Moses Morgan, with the known Marcus Elliott serving as one of their reinforcements.

The pivotal game: Pelita Jaya versus Hi-Tech Basketball Club

Pelita Jaya and Hi-Tech will raise the curtains of Group B play on Wednesday afternoon at 15:00 local time, a game which could set the tone on how the pool will play out.

Given some of the players' familiarity with one another through national team competitions over the years, expect, too, for fireworks to blow up as two favorites slug it out.