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KCC, Dongbu advance ...to KBL semifinals

The basketball season is reaching its climax here, with the final four teams in the top-division league getting ready for semifinals next week.

KCC Egis reached the semifinals of the 2009-2010 Korean Basketball League playoffs for the fourth straight year by defeating Samsung Thunders on Wednesday night.

The Jeonju-based team took a third straight win in a best-of-five playoff against the Seoul-based team.

On Wednesday, center Ha Seung-jin got 22 points and guard Chon Tae-poong 23 points to lead the second-seeded Egis to a 97-81 win over the sixth-placed Thunders at the Jamsil Gymnasium, Seoul.

After the game, KCC Egis manager Hur Jae praised point guard Chon for the team’s victory.

“I was a little worried about his condition before the playoff, but he has been terrific in the past two games,” Hur said.

The 180 cm-tall point guard is the offensive cornerstone of the team. He netted 13 points in the second quarter alone to give the Egis a lead, and also had six assists and three steals to control the game. 
KCC Egis center Ha Seung-jin looks to shoot during a KBL playoff game against the Samsung Thunders at Jamsil Gymnasium in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap News)
KCC Egis center Ha Seung-jin looks to shoot during a KBL playoff game against the Samsung Thunders at Jamsil Gymnasium in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap News)

The country’s tallest player, Ha, also stood out. The 221 cm-tall center had 16 rebounds in the game to secure the lead. He also slammed five dunks to excite the crowd.

“Our players played well, they were really focused. If we keep carrying on playing like this I think we have a great chance in the semifinals,” Hur added.

But the manager faces a much bigger task now. The Egis will now face the second-seeded ET-land Elephants in the semifinals, which start from next week. The two teams have met six times this season, with the Incheon-based Elephants winning five games and losing just one.

Forward Moon Tae-jong is the steam engine of the Elephants. In particular, the 204cm-tall ethnic Korean player had an average 17.5 points and 6.7 rebounds against the Egis. In order to make it to the finals, Hur must find out how to stop the player.

The manager is betting big on the team’s most experienced player ― Choo Seung-gyun. The 37-year-old power forward has played 99 games in the KBL playoffs and is now expected to reach a milestone of 100 games next week.

“The playoff games are different from the season games. If we can win the first game, I think we have a good chance to make it to the finals,” Choo said.

Meanwhile, other semifinals will see the top-seeded KT Sonicboom confronting the fourth-seeded Dongbu Promy.

The Wonju-based Dongbu earned a spot in the semifinals against the fifth-seeded LG Sakers on Tuesday, sweeping three straight games in the best-of-five playoff.

KT and Dongbu have met six times this season, sharing a tight 3-3 head-to-head record.

Both teams know their opponent well. KT manager Chun Chang-jin had led the Dogbu side in the 2002-2009 seasons, while the current manager Kang Dong-hee served as a coach under Chun.

“We know each other so well, it’s going to be a tough battle,” Promy manger Kang said. From April 4, the four teams will play best-of-five semifinals.

The Sonicbom faces the Promy at home in Busan on April 4 at 7p.m., and the following day the Elephants call to the Egis at its home in Incheon.

By Oh Kyu-wook (596story@heraldcorp.com)
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