Elephants may become extinct in the KBL

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Elephants may become extinct in the KBL

The future of the Incheon ET Land Elephants seems uncertain as the Korean Basketball League is still trying to find a way to help the troubled team.

The Elephants, who finished sixth last year and squeezed into the playoffs, face potential dissolution as rumors suggest its mother company, ET Land, an electronic appliances retailer, is waiting to be sold to another company due to financial troubles.

KBL Commissioner Han Sun-kyo and general managers of the 10 KBL clubs, including the Elephants, had a board meeting at the KBL headquarters in Seoul on Monday to discuss the matter, but after nearly two hours of talks, it ended without a concrete solution.

Ahn Joon-ho, director of the KBL basketball operations committee, said after the meeting that nothing has been determined at this moment, but the teams had now acknowledged what is going on within the league.

“Basically, ET Land and the KBL have agreed that we should cooperate with each other,” Ahn said. “If there’s new information, they will report to the KBL right away.”

Sources are saying that two retail conglomerates, Lotte and Shinsegae, are interested in buying ET Land. But it is still uncertain whether these companies would take over the basketball team as well.

Lotte is reportedly more interested in running its baseball club, the Busan Lotte Giants, one of the most popular baseball teams in the Korea Baseball Organization. Shinsegae doesn’t seem likely to purchase the team at this moment after it cut ties with the women’s basketball league last month.

On April 13, Shinsegae abruptly announced that it would no longer going to sponsor its women’s basketball team, the Coolcat, after 15 years.

The Women’s Korea Basketball League and Shinsegae are currently trying to find a new company to buy that team.

If the Elephants can’t find a new company before the new season begins, sources say that the KBL may temporarily run the basketball club in a way similar to the Korea Volleyball Federation’s (KOVO) management of the Seoul Dream Six last season.

The Dream Six were operated by the KOVO after Jeonbuk Bank, who acquired Woori Capital, the mother company of the Dream Six, didn’t take over the volleyball team.

Pundits are expecting that the KBL will try its best to keep the 10-team league intact - since if one team is dissolved, the organization could also face damages in sponsorship deals and broadcasting contracts. The league has been running with 10 clubs since 1997.

The Elephants were originally established by Daewoo Securities in 1994 and then run by Shinsegi Telecom from 1997-99 before it was taken over by SK in 2001. ET Land bought the team from SK in 2003.
By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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