What is one of the things that come to mind when you think of Tijuana? The Xolos, the Toros, hey even the tacos.
Another thing that distinguishes the border city to San Diego are those donkeys that are painted to look like Zebras. The classic picture a tourist takes with a sombrero on top of one of these “Zonkeys”. The fictitious breed became so characteristic of the city that in 2010, a professional basketball team was founded and named the Tijuana Zonkeys.
The Tijuana Zonkeys are a professional basketball team that plays in a league called the CIBACOPA. The league is centered in North Western Mexico, with the Zonkeys being the only team from Baja California. The rest hail from Durango, Sinaloa, and Sonora. 10 teams make up the competitive league, with the season being a short one played from March to June, only having 38 regular season games.
The games are oddly played in series, exactly like in baseball, making for a much-more competitive league. Teams from this league, for the most part, follow a formula to make up their rosters. A maximum of four foreigners per team, one Mexican-American player can be used as well, apart from the foreigners. Players under the age of 21 must also be used, as well as local players from the respective city the team plays in. The CIBACOPA allows for youth talent to develop in the league, with rules that support youngsters.
The ‘Zebra Donkeys’ have been successful in their short period of existence, winning back to back titles from 2014-2015. Before the Xolos were the main attraction in Tijuana, many people from the region were more interested in American sports like baseball and basketball, rather than soccer.
The Zonkeys have gained popularity over the years, playing their games at the Auditorio Fausto Gutierrez, very close to the Estadio Caliente. With there being no NBA team in San Diego since the Clippers in 1984, get to know the professional basketball team that is closest to you. EVT will try to bring you the best regional coverage of all the professional sports teams near you, the Zonkeys start-up play this Wednesday, March 22 in Tijuana at 6:00 P.M. PST.
David Abramowitz Head Coach
The San Diego presence on the Mexican basketball team starts with the head coach, David Abramowitz. The Tijuana native went to high school at the University of San Diego High School and attended and played basketball at San Diego State University. Abramowitz was known as a good passer and excellent three-point shooter in his college ball days. Now at 37 years old, he is coaching professionally at a very young age.
Marcus Morrison F
Morrison went undrafted in the 2007 NBA Draft out of Middle Tennessee State. Since then the 32-year-old has been traveling the world during his basketball career. The 6-foot-6 forward has played in Chile, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, and Mexico. The Florida native has been on the Tijuana Zonkeys since the 11-12 season and has been a part of both the ‘Zebra Donkeys’ championships.
Trayvon Lathan F
Undrafted talent is a recurring theme within the Tijuana Zonkeys. Trayvon Lathan went undrafted in the 2007 NBA Draft out of Chowan University. Like teammate, Marcus Morrison, Lathan has played basketball globally in Lebanon, Germany, Canada, and now Mexico. The 32-year-old has been with the border city side since 2015 and has become a prominent figure within the team.
Leon Gibson III F
Gibson is one of the younger players found on Abramowitz’s team at 25 years old. He is also one of the tallest at 6-foot-9. The Los Angeles native went undrafted in the 2013 NBA draft out of Houston. Since then, Gibson has been chasing his dream playing in inferior leagues in the U.S. and in other countries like Uruguay and Mexico.
Sean Gardner G
Gardner is fresh out of college chasing his dream, having just finished up his playtime at Arkansas State. In two seasons with the Red Wolves, Gardner averaged 11.2 points per game. The 6-foot-5 guard should be an interesting one to watch for this CIBACOPA campaign.
Luis “Chupa” Ramírez G
The captain of the Tijuana Zonkeys is veteran Guard, Luis Ramirez, who is a native of Tijuana and is one of the fan-favorites on the team. Ramirez has been playing professionally for 12 years and is revered for his three-point game.
Karim Rodríguez F
A San Diego presence must be felt on nearly all Tijuana sports teams. The Xolos have Paul Arriola and Joe Corona, the Toros have Alex Sanabia, and the Zonkeys have Karim Rodriguez. The 29-year-old played with the border city side in the 12-13 campaign and is back with the Zonkeys this season.
U-21 Players and Locals
The Zonkeys have given some younger players a chance, having three players under the age of 21 on their roster. The three players are Maickol Borgan, Diego Ibarra, and Erick Ruiz. The three will look to stand out this season and provide a lot for the border city side. The locals are composed of captain, Luis Ramirez, with Luis Quintero, Jacinto Romero, and Sergio Sanchez also representing their hometown in this year’s edition of the CIBACOPA.
Francisco, 26, Chula Vista/Tijuana. I have been a Padres fan all my life, did most of the series previews and recaps in the Padres’ 2016 season for EVT. Now I focus more on the local soccer scene. Tijuana Xolos, San Diego Loyal, San Diego Wave.