CHINA'S National Basketball League, searching for their first title sponsor, is looking for loopholes in new anti-smoking legislation.
Flushed with success after the league's debut season, which finished last weekend, the Chinese Basketball Association and the league's marketing company International Management Group are on tenterhooks.
They are eagerly hoping for a positive response as to what level of cigarette company involvement will be acceptable to the Government.
That means waiting for an answer from the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) which is contemplating whether to accept the idea of a cigarette company as the league's title sponsor for next season.
But the climate in China in recent months has turned against the promotion of tobacco products with directives and laws severely limiting such advertising.
Said IMG's Richard Avery from Shanghai yesterday: 'This is a cigarette sponsorship issue as opposed to a cigarette advertising issue. The distinction between sponsorship and advertising is the key, we hope.' The eight-team league completed its schedule of 14 games per team with the August First team runaway champions on 14 wins.
Their dominance was reflected in the number of their players in last night's All-Star game in Shanghai.
Both All-Star teams, the red team and the yellow team, were selected by popular ballot through national newspapers.
August First's Liu Yu Dong and guard Adiljan, both Chinese national team members, were the top vote-getters.
Avery pronounced the inaugural season a great success, saying: 'All the arenas were full for the games and they drew big audiences for the weekly live televised game which was shown on CCTV. There were also highlight shows aired in Taiwan.'