With new rule, KBL teams swap foreigners early

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With new rule, KBL teams swap foreigners early

It’s been nearly a month since the start of the Korean Basketball League season, but several teams have already decided to replace their foreign players.

This season, teams can now have only one foreign player on their roster. Last season, teams were allowed to have two imported players, although both could not be on the court at the same time. The rule change has prompted teams to quickly adjust their rosters in order to acquire the foreign player who best fits their needs.

The Changwon LG Sakers, currently eighth in the league table, have announced that they’re replacing Nigerian center Olumide Oyedeji with U.S. forward Aaron Haynes, who led the league in scoring last season with 23.1 points per game while playing for the Seoul Samsung Thunders.

“Haynes came to Korea on Tuesday and if he clears the visa process, we will send him in today’s game against Anyang Korea Ginseng Corporation,” the Sakers said yesterday. “We now have last season’s No. 1 scorer Haynes and No. 2 scorer Moon Tae-young in the lineup.”

Oyedeji, 30, is leading the league in rebounds, averaging 15.45 per game. However, his slow feet have been a burden to the team’s offense, which Sakers coach Kim Jin desperately hopes to improve this season. The Sakers have so far scored 72.5 points per game, the worst among the league’s 10 teams.

“Oyedeji did his job, but I’m just sorry for him,” said Kim. “We needed a fast and good scorer, so we brought Haynes.”

Meanwhile, Haynes’ former team, the Thunders, decided to release their Puerto Rican center Peter John Ramos and bring in American forward Joe Ira Clark. Clark, 36, has previously played with the Daegu Dongyang Orions in the 2005-6 season, during which he averaged 22.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

The Thunders said on Monday that the team also needed a fast player to boost its attack. Ramos, who is the tallest KBL player at 2.22 meters (7 feet 3 inches), did put up good numbers to start the season with 18.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game as of Tuesday. But the 26-year-old also made 4.7 turnovers per game and his slow speed was a liability at both ends of the court. Ramos is expected to play his last game for the Thunders tomorrow.

The Busan KT Sonicbooms’ Charles Rhodes is also expected to be out of the league in the near future as coach Jeon Chang-jin announced that he already sent a contract to Rhodes’ replacement.

By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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