Balance of power in the KBL shifts

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Balance of power in the KBL shifts

When the Korean Basketball League starts the 2012-13 season Saturday night in a rematch of the KBL Finals, the balance of power in the 10-team league will have shifted compared to just one year ago.

In a league that has a few valuable players who are naturalized citizens, and thus don’t fall under the rules regulating foreign stars, having a starter like Moon Tae-young (Gregory Stevenson), Lee Seung-jun (Eric Lee Sandrin) or Chon Tae-poong (Tony Akins) can shift the entire dynamic on the court.

The KBL thus implemented a rule that states naturalized citizens cannot play on a team for more than three years. Those three years have passed, and now some of the biggest names in the game are donning new jerseys.

The 2009-10 champions, the Ulsan Mobis Phoebus, have arguably the best guard in the league, Yang Dong-geun, but struggled with the absence of an effective power forward to take the heat off of centers Ricardo Ratliffe and Amal McCaskill.

They made a major acquisition during the offseason - Moon. Traded from the Changwon LG Sakers, the 1.93-meter (6 foot, 3 inch) forward averaged 18 points and 6.3 rebounds last year.

Kim Si-rae, a guard drafted in January, will help manage the back court while many of the players who won the title three years ago will provide depth on the bench.

The Wonju Dongbu Promy, the two-time champions who finished first in the league during the regular season but were upset in the finals, brought in Lee from the Seoul Samsung Thunders to play alongside Kim Joo-sung.

Lee, a 2.06-meter forward, and Kim, a 2.05-meter forward/center, will give the Promy one of the tallest starting five in the league. The two foreign players, Brandon Bowman and Victor Thomas, are 2.0 meters and 1.99 meters, respectively.

The team expects Lee to fill the void left by MVP forward Yoon Ho-young, who started his compulsory military service early this year. Lee averaged 16.6 points and 9.8 rebounds last season.

The Goyang Orions are putting their faith in forward Choi Jin-soo and guard Chon. The team, looking to clinch a berth to the playoff for the first time in six years, has been desperate to find a replacement for guard Kim Seung-hyun, who was sent to Samsung last year.

Chon, a 1.78-meter guard, averaged 15 points and 2.8 rebounds last season.

The league has abolished the three-second rule for the season in accordance with FIBA, and that is expected to work in the favor of teams with tall players.

The rule banned defenders from standing in the paint for three seconds or longer.

KBL teams will also play college teams for the first time during a mid-season tournament from Nov. 28 to Dec. 6.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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