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title icon Breakers will play first WCBL game at Staples

Mavs’ owner Mark Cuban may play for Santa Barbara

Dave Loveton – 3/24/2008

The Santa Barbara Breakers will play the first West Coast Basketball League game on the ultimate stage at The Staples Center in Los Angeles, the home of the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers.

The Breakers will open their second season of pro basketball on Monday, March 31 at 1 p.m. against the Orange County Gladiators, a team that just completed its American Basketball Association season. Later that night, the Dallas Mavericks will take on the L.A. Clippers on the same Staples Center floor.

With flamboyant Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban coming to town, Breakers’ owner and coach Curt Pickering decided to offer Cuban a chance to show his basketball prowess. Pickering says Cuban, who previously appeared on “Dancing with the Stars,” responded positively to his offer and there’s a “90 percent chance” he’ll play for the Breakers on Monday.

“The Breakers are about entertainment and giving opportunities to players trying to reach their potential,” said Pickering. “Mark Cuban represents entertainment and what we’re all about — promoting players to NBA rosters in the Las Vegas Summer League.”

Players expected to compete in the Breakers’ opener on Monday include ex-Dos Pueblos High and Cal star Shantay Legans, former UCSB player Josh Merrill, ex-Pacific standouts Tyler Newton and Allan Purnell and 7-1 Rashid Byrd, who’s currently featured in Will Ferrell’s basketball movie, “Semi-Pro.”

Lamond Murray, who averaged 27.6 points and 8.4 rebounds in five Breaker games last year, is also a possibility if he doesn’t return to a pro league in Europe. Toby Bailey, one of the stars of last year’s 17-6 Breaker squad, and fellow ex-UCLA star Billy Knight are expected to return to the Santa Barbara lineup when their pro commitments end in Germany and France, respectively.

The Montecito Basketball Academy, a kids’ organization run by Pickering, has played at halftime of Clippers’ games for the last 12 seasons. “The Clippers’ pregame and entertainment director called me and asked if the Breakers would like to play at Staples,” Pickering said. “I jumped at the chance. It’s going to ge exciting, getting to coach on the sideline where the Clippers and Lakers play. We’ll have to bring cameras.”

The Breakers will make their home debut on Friday, April 11 against Newport Beach Surf, followed by a Saturday game against the Hollywood Shooting Stars. Both games will be played at SBCC with tip-off set for 7:05 p.m. For ticket information, call 685-5600 or visit the team’s web site at santabarbarabasketball.com.

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