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Pro basketball: ABA holding tryout in SCV

Velocity will host session on Sunday starting at 4 p.m.

Posted: August 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Wacky offensive plays and a flashy, multi-colored ball may not be what comes to mind when the term “professional basketball” is thrown around.

That’s the kind of basketball that will likely grace northern Los Angeles County later this year.

The American Basketball Association’s L.A. Slam is holding an open tryout on Sunday at the Valencia-based Velocity Sports Performance.

“What makes this pretty unique, though, is it’s not only a tryout for our regular team, it’s actually used as a showcase, too,” said Slam owner Don Sanchez, adding that multiple international basketball coaches will also be in attendance on Sunday.

The tryout at Velocity will take place between 4 and 8 p.m. and costs $125 to enter at the door, $100 for pre-registration.

Former Los Angeles Laker​ and The Master’s College player Mike Penberthy​ is expected to attend the tryout and possibly play for the team this season, according to Sanchez. If so, Sanchez said he’ll play alongside fellow NBA retirees Tony Farmer, who played nine years with three difference teams, and Jeff Trepagnier, a former USC standout who played in the NBA for three years.

Sanchez also said this season’s roster will include Larry “Bone Collector” Williams, formerly of AND1 Streetball and Jayceon Taylor, better known as the rapper “The Game.”

The regular season is set to begin on Dec. 1, but Sanchez said the team is still looking for a permanent home court in Lancaster. The candidates so far include Antelope Valley College, Lancaster High School or the University of Antelope Valley, which reportedly has plans to build a 5,000-seat arena by next year.

Though the big names have attracted sizable crowds in the past, Sanchez decided the move from central L.A. County was a better business move.

“The financial reality is we were competing against the Lakers and the Clippers and UCLA and USC and Disneyland and everything else,” Sanchez said.

In the past three seasons, the Slam has played home games at Los Angeles Southwest College until attempting to move to Lake Elsinore last season. The facility fell through after a single home game, though, and the team was forced to play out the season on the road.

Shortly after that, Sanchez moved to Lancaster, where he saw a golden opportunity for a relocation.

“With the growth, there’s a demand for quality entertainment, and that seems to be lacking there,” Sanchez said of the Antelope Valley. “When I moved there, I had no intention of bringing my team there, but now I really see the opportunity for making this a community-based team.”

Despite its troubles to find a primary home court, the Slam has been one of the ABA’s most successful franchises in the past four years. Last year, it won the Southern California Conference and is currently ranked No. 17 among 92 teams according to the league’s power rankings.

Sanchez stresses that the ABA isn’t a developmental league for the NBA, but a “mid-level league.”

The ABA was founded in 1967 as a direct competitor with the NBA. In 1976, the two leagues merged, bringing former ABA teams like the New York Nets (now New Jersey), Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets to the current NBA format.

In 2000, the ABA was brought back, beginning with just eight teams. The brand has grown since then due to the emergence of celebrities and former NBA and college basketball stars as both players and owners.

The hope is to encourage the growth of the sport in both the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley. With NBA players still locked out and a collective bargaining agreement nowhere in sight, this year could be the Slam’s best chance.

“Our long-term goal is to remain here,” Sanchez said. “We don’t want to be drifters because every time we drift, we lose the chance to make money.”


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