Basketball at 'warp speed'

Basketball games in which both teams score well over 100 points.

Former college standouts averaging more than 30 points.

Nonstop action in two hours or less.

The International Basketball League is hoops at warp speed, and it's coming to Southern Oregon tonight and Thursday for a pair of games that could serve as a steppingstone to placing one of the minor league teams here.

The contests will pit the Portland Chinooks, an established IBL squad, against a team of Southern Oregon All-Stars — primarily former Southern Oregon University and Oregon Tech players.

Game times are 7 tonight at Oregon Tech in Klamath Falls and at 7 p.m. Thursday at Kids Unlimited in Medford.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for youth (17-under), college students with ID cards and seniors.

Can fans expect to be on the edge of their seats for two hours?

"It would shock me if they weren't," says Mikal Duilio, commissioner of the four-year league. "Every game Portland plays is a heart-stopping, last-second deal."

He cited a similar game three weeks ago in Coos Bay between Portland and Central Oregon — in which fans didn't have a local interest — and said only two of 350 fans left early.

"They literally stayed to the end even though they didn't know who to root for," he said. "It was a great game, and there was a tremendous amount of athleticism."

Ultimately, Duilio would like to put a team in the Rogue Valley next season. The landscape of the league changes from year to year, and this season there are 18 teams in four divisions across the country, in Canada and even in China.

Already there is a team set to begin play next year in Coos Bay and another restarting in Eugene.

The model for a team is based largely on volunteerism and trading out services to keep costs low, says Duilio. Nevertheless, he admits, new ownership groups can expect to lose about $25,000 the first year and $10,000 the following year.

"The third year, they either drop out or fix it and break even," he says.

Duilio will be at both games to see how things unfold and to meet and greet anyone interested in getting involved.

Members of the Southern Oregon team from SOU are 6-foot-4 Matt Espinoza, 6-5 Shavon Haynes, 6-1 Donny Guy, 6-1 Clayson Whitney and 6-3 Matt Cowell.

From OIT, there will be 6-3 Marvin Woodard Jr., 6-8 Tim Bruner, 6-6 Richard Faust, 6-6 Jerry Ellis and 5-11 Jacob Carr.

Others are 6-5 Matthew Greenleaf of Cascade College, 5-10 Keith Young of Seattle Pacific and 6-4 Kenny Cobb of Lane Community College.

Many players in the IBL are hoping it'll be a springboard to professional ball overseas. After 20-plus practices and 20-plus games in the IBL, says Duilio, they're in good shape as tryouts are just beginning for Asian and European leagues.

Last year, 102 players went from the IBL to higher pro teams, he says.

Eric Fiegi, who starred at South Medford High and Corban College in Salem, took that route. He led the IBL in scoring with an average of 31.5 points in 2006 before moving on.

"The demand for players who want to play in the league are unbelievable," says Duilio.

The Portland Chinooks are led by 6-9 former Oregon State standout David Lucas, the son of former Blazer Maurice Lucas. David Lucas was the league's leading scorer last year at 36.5 points per game, then played overseas. He returned to the IBL team three games ago, but it's uncertain if he'll play here, says Duilio.

Other standouts for Portland, which lost in the league title game last season to Indiana, are Larry Smith, who has scored in the 30s his last four games, and point guard Mario Vargas, who had 29 points, seven rebounds and four assists his last game.

Chris Stephens, who averaged in double figures for three years with Oregon State, also plays for the Chinooks, as does former Providence star God Shammgod and Kenny Tate, a two-time IBL All-Star who was MVP of that game in 2005 after scoring 43 points.

In Duilio's estimation, not much separates some IBL players — he cites Lucas in particular — from those in the NBA.

"For a lot of guys in this league," he says, "they're one or two inches too short for their NBA position."

Lucas is two inches short of "being a big-time NBA '4' (power forward)," says Duilio. "But those two inches are two inches that just can't be replaced. David's trying to redefine himself as a '3' (small forward)."

The two games will count on Portland's record. Each team is allowed two such exhibition contests.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail

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