A long and a hard-fought season in the country’s top basketball league is nearing its final stage with the top six teams now heading into the playoffs, which start this week.
The Korean Basketball League begins its playoffs Friday when the fourth-ranked Wonju Dongbu Promy faces fifth-placed Changwon LG Sakers in their best-of-three series. Starting Saturday, the third-ranked Jeonju KCC Egis meets the sixth-place Seoul Samsung Thunders.
KBL coaches pose with the championship trophy during a press conference in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap News)
The winners will go through to the best-of-five semifinals against the top seed Busan KT Sonicboom and the runner-up Incheon ET-land Elephants respectively. The finals are scheduled for April 16. On Monday managers from the six teams held a joint press conference at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul. Speaking to reporters, Busan KT manager Jeon Chang-jin said he felt anxious about the championship series. “Last season, we finished second in the regular season, but lost in the semis. I don’t want to make the same mistake again,” said Jeon.
Two years ago, the Busan-based team was at the bottom of the 10-team league. But since hard-nosed manager Jeon took the helm, its fortunes have changed completely. This season, the team finished the regular season at the top of the league with 41 wins, securing the top seed in the championship series. “I’m not satisfied with the top seed. I want something bigger. I want the champion title,” Jeon added.
The Incheon ET-land manger Yoo Do-hoon said he was confident over the title race, noting that his team has advantage in the playoff series. “Unlike other teams, we have no injured players and our players are in their best condition,” Yoo said.
The Incheon side, which finished ninth last season, has surged into the second place this season, only three wins from KT. “I think we are well-mixed with some newcomers and old players. We’re really strong as a team, which will be a great advantage in the championship series,” Yoo added.
Before the start of the season, league watchers picked the Jeonju KCC squad as a strong favorite, as it boasts one of the league’s best lineups, including the 221 centimeter-tall center Ha Seung-jin and all-round player Chon Tae-poong.
KCC manager Hur Jae admitted that he had a difficulty managing the team due the injury of his key players. “Fortunately, all the players are now back and will be able to play,” he said.
By Oh Kyu-wook (firstname.lastname@example.org