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South Korean pro basketball coach faces suspicions of manipulating games for gambling profit

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean police plan to question a high-profile basketball coach over allegations that he manipulated games he coached to make money from gambling.

Seoul police official Kim Seong-woon said Wednesday they will investigate claims that former Busan KT Sonicboom head coach Chun Chang-jin borrowed 300 million won ($272,000) from a loan shark to place bets on illegal gambling sites on five games he coached between February and March.

Kim said the information arose from an investigation of two of Chun's acquaintances detained over illegal gambling suspicions, and Chun's bank records were being examined. Kim did not reveal the five games that were under suspicion.

Chun's lawyer Lee Jeong-won denied the accusations and said that his client has never bet on the games he coached. Lee said Chun never coached his team to intentionally lose, but simply reduced the minutes of his starters toward the end of last season as the Sonicboom fell out of playoff contention.

Chun, a five-time Korean Basketball League coach-of-the-year and a two-time head coach of South Korea's national team, left the Sonicboom after last season and signed a deal with the Anyang Korea Ginseng Corporation. The KBL said Chun could face a lifetime ban if the allegations against him prove to be true.

South Korea's major professional sports leagues, including basketball, baseball and football, have been rocked by match-fixing scandals in recent years. Kang Dong-hee, former head coach of KBL's Wonju Dongbu Promy and widely considered the best point guard South Korea has ever produced, received a 10-month prison term in 2013 for receiving money from illegal gambling brokers in exchange for fixing games between February and March 2011. That was a period during which Chun, then the coach of Sonicboom, accused Kang of "tanking" — losing games intentionally — to seek a better position in the following season's rookie draft.

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