A Guide To The Japan B League

The B. League is a professional basketball league for men in Japan. The Japan Professional Basketball League, under the auspices of the Japan Basketball Association, is the organising body of the league, which was established in September 2016.  

The J. league was formed after the merger of the National Basketball League and the BJ League as mandated by FIBA. Interested in learning about its history and current status in detail? Continue reading to find all the answers.

Japan B. League History

As stated earlier, the formation of the B. League resulted from a merger between the privately owned BJ League and the National Basketball League. The National Basketball League was governed by the Japan Basketball Association (JBA), which was formed in 1930. The association is affiliated with FIBA and has been operating top basketball leagues in the country since 1967. 

While earlier, the leagues were operated under the auspices of corporate ownerships, in 1993, there was a shift from the norm, and the J League was formed. Following this, the JBA allowed professional players to play under the new format. However, despite lifting the ban, the Japan Super League remained an amateur league, and the majority of teams were still under corporate ownership.

The franchise system-based BJ League was launched in 2005 as a rival league to the Super League. Consequently, the JBA revamped the Super League and launched it as the Japan Basketball League in 2007. The league was rebranded and named the National Basketball League in 2013. In the following years, the two leagues continued to add teams to their portfolio, increasing the competition.

However, this also led to a lack of structure and disorganisation in the Japanese basketball league system, which did not go unnoticed by FIBA. It asked the JBA to reorganise its domestic leagues in 2014, but the JBA could not meet its deadlines, and as a result, Japan was suspended from international basketball competitions. 

Upon FIBA’s recommendations, the two competing leagues merged to form the J. League in July 2015, and its inaugural season was held in 2016. At the time of the merger, the National Basketball League had 12 teams, while its second division had 10 teams. The BJ League had 24 teams. Except for one or two teams, all teams were inducted into the newly formed league and divided into three divisions. However, before the 2020-21 season took off, the league was restructured, and the teams were divided into two divisions. 

Japan B. League Format

The B. League has been segregated into two divisions, B1 and B2. The two divisions follow the promotion and demotion format between each other. The divisions are further segregated into two conferences, East and West divisions, respectively.

The B. League first division, or B1, has 24 teams. In a regular season, the teams play 60 games each, out of which they play four games against each team within their conference, making a total of 36 games. The remaining 24 games are played against the teams in the other conference; two games are played against eight teams, and four games against the remaining two teams. 

The Playoff round comprises eight teams, three best teams from each conference, while the remaining two are picked as wild cards according to their best score. A best-of-three format is followed for the quarterfinal, semi-final, and also finals.

The second division, or B2, follows more or less the same format as the B1. The regular season comprises 60 games; however, teams play a total of 42 games within their conference. A team gets to play six games against each team in the same conference. The remaining 18 games are played against the team in the other conference; two games are played against seven teams, while four games are against the remaining team.

The winning and runners-up team from the season stand qualified to compete in the East Asia Super League. 

The division follows the same format of playoffs as the B1. Eight teams qualify, comprising three best teams from each conference and two wild cards according to their best score. A best-of-three format is followed for the quarterfinal, semi-final, and also finals.

The two divisions within the B. League follow the promotion and relegation system. Playoffs for team advancement and demotion are held each year to determine which teams from the second division will advance to the first division and which teams from the first division will be relegated to the second division in the next season of the B. League. During the 2021-21 season, the playoffs for promotion and relegation were not conducted, and it was announced that the best two teams from the second division would be sent to the first division with any other upgrade or demotion taking place. 

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