NBA alumni level the playing court

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NBA alumni level the playing court


One week into the Korean Basketball League season, and the only clear thing is that nothing is clear as far as standings are concerned.
After losing their season opener, Mobis Phoebus won four consecutive games, claming the lead in standings at the week’s end. In their 94-85 win over ETLand Black Slammer Sunday, Phoebus forward Chris Williams became the first KBL player this season to score a triple double with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.
However, the Phoebus’ grasp on first place is about as tenuous as Britney Spears’ marriages; in the 10-team league, seven teams are within 1.5 games of the top spot at the conclusion of the season’s second weekend.
Two teams that were expected to jump out of the gate early, Samsung Thunders and LG Sakers, are just 2-2 and 1-4, respectively. Defending champions Dongbu Promy lost their first two games before returning to form with three straight wins. Tongyang Orions, a trendy pick as a surprise contender this season, won their first two contests only to drop the next two. KCC Egis, last year’s runner-up, were seen as an aging team, but are off to a 3-1 start under the guidance of former Korean basketball legend Hur Jae as their new head coach.
Why such parity, then?
The distribution of foreign players ―each team is allowed two, with a combined height being no more than 4 meters (13.1 feet) ― has leveled the playing field this year. While the Egis bolstered their front line by adding former National Basketball Association center Sharon Wright, others were just as busy addressing their needs in the off-season.
But no team has gotten more from their import duos than the Phoebus. The aforementioned Williams was a standout athlete in the Australian and German professional leagues, winning the post-season most valuable player honors in Down Under in 2003. So far, his selfless play with regard to teammates has helped the Phoebus get off to a solid start.
Teammate Torraye Braggs was a fringe player in the NBA for parts of two seasons, but seems to have found a groove here. He is the smallest starting center in the KBL at 198 centimeters, but makes up for his lack of height with deft passing skills and the ability to find open men. Combine that with continuing improvement of reigning rookie of the year Yang Dong-geun at point guard, and we have ourselves one hot basketball team.
However, with the season still in its early days it’s also not clear how long Phoebus will be able to stay on fire.

by Yoo Jee-ho
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