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League taps the Chinese market

Based in Springfield, Shaanxi Kylins prep for 18 IBL games
by: , LUCAS

The International Basketball League is living up to its name. One of the new teams in the IBL this year will be the Shaanxi Kylins, from Xi’an, a city in central China with a population of more than 8 million. Kylins are mythical, hooved creatures sometimes depicted with fire covering their bodies; they often are considered a sign of prosperity. The Shaanxi (pronounced SHANG-zi) Kylins’ entrance into the IBL is causing some shuffling in the league’s alignment. There will be USA/Asia and USA/Canada divisions, with nine teams in each. The USA/Asia side will have the Portland Chinooks, Vancouver (Wash.) Volcanoes, Eugene Chargers, Central Oregon Hotshots, Bellingham (Wash.) Slam, the Jazz of Tacoma (Wash.), Washington Raptors (in Chehalis), Snohomish County Explosion (in Everett, Wash.) and Shaanxi. The Chinese team will be based in Springfield, where the U.S. Basketball Academy trains Asian teams and players. The Kylins will play an 18-game schedule, all on the road. “They’re just like any other pro team,” IBL Commissioner Mikal Duilio says. “Their ages will be from 20 to 32.” Duilio likens the Kylins to a 1970s college basketball squad. “They play solid, fundamental tough basketball. And boy, do they set some tough picks,” he says. Shaanxi comes from the Chinese Basketball Association, which has produced NBA players Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets and Yi Jianlian of the Milwaukee Bucks. “It has always been my goal to have legitimate international play in the IBL,” Duilio says. “Coming off our most successful season last year, we really expect 2008 to be outstanding. Having Shaanxi on board definitely adds to that.” Duilio, who lives in Vancouver, Wash., says the league also has an agreement with a Japanese all-star team to play in 2009. “The league is becoming more real,” Duilio says of the IBL, which is in its fourth year. “The quality of ownership, the product and the arenas are so much better now.” Portland figures to again be one of the top teams in the league. According to Duilio, back from the squad that made the championship game a year ago will be 6-8 wing David Lucus — the IBL scoring leader and former Oregon State star — along with 6-0 guard Shammgod Wells, an ex-NBA player, and 6-5 wing David Jackson, formerly with the Oregon Ducks. The Chinooks scored as many as 171 points in a game last year and could have more offense this year with the addition of DaJuan Tate, who averaged 35.6 points in 2007 for Las Vegas. “They have one of the most talented teams in the league,” Duilio says of the Chinooks. “I plan to go to almost every game, they’re that entertaining.” Back to coach Portland will be Terrance Dickens. The Chinooks’ home court is undetermined, but Duilio says that they plan to play 10 Sundays in a row, all at 5 p.m. The IBL season begins March 8.