“I’ve never lost a match in Korea. I want to continue that record.”
That’s what key guard Kim Sun-hyung said after the South Korean men’s basketball team, which is competing in the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, beat Qatar on Monday for its second straight win in group play. Now it’s time to turn those words into reality.
The men’s basketball team, led by head coach Chu Il-seung, will play their third Group D game against arch-rivals Japan at 12 noon on Tuesday at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium in Hangzhou, China.
It’s a “rock, paper, scissors” game, but there’s another reason why the Koreas must catch each other.
The winner of this match will clinch first place in the group with three straight wins and advance directly to the quarterfinals, while the loser will finish second in the group and have to play a round-of-12 tournament. With the first-place team having the advantage of a well-deserved break, South Korea is in desperate need of a win.
South Korea has lost a number of key players ahead of the tournament, which is a concern. Yeo Jun-seok and Lee Hyun-jung are unavailable due to overseas commitments, while KBL’s top forwards Moon Sung-gon and Song Kyo-chang are out with injuries. Choi Jun-yong, a versatile offensive player, was also not called up to the squad.
Coach Chu Il-seung, who likes to play forward, was left in a quandary. He had to find another way, and eventually announced that his tactics would be centered around guard-oriented, fast-paced basketball. In Korea, it’s a system that Seoul SK often utilizes.
South Korea came into the tournament fresh off a 95-55 victory over Indonesia in the first game, followed by a 76-64 win over Qatar. The players also seem to be gaining confidence with the winning streak. Heo Hoon, who has become the de facto national team ace, anchored the team, while veteran guard Kim Sun-hyung also contributed to the victory with an Al Toran-like performance.
The next big man in Korean basketball, Ha Yoon-ki, has also risen to the occasion. He’s bursting with potential and has been a stalwart under the basket for South Korea. In Game 2, he contributed 14 points and six rebounds to the win. For now, he’s as good as his senior teammate Kim Jong-kyu. The tournament is a natural transition of generations.
The team will need to carry the momentum of their two-game winning streak into the game against Japan. Japan finished 19th at the recent Basketball World Cup, the highest ranking among Asian teams, and qualified for the Paris Olympics. They are also ranked 26th in the world, well ahead of South Korea at 51st.메이저사이트
However, the team was without a number of key players in Hangzhou and fielded a team of young players in their 20s. Despite two consecutive wins, they are far from their best, as they struggled in the group stage. It’s a fight that South Korea is up for.
If South Korea defeats Japan and advances directly to the quarterfinals, they will play the quarterfinals on October 3 after two days of rest. If they lose, they will have only one day of rest before playing the quarterfinals on October 2.