The finals of this year’s Korean Basketball League are now set with the KCC Egis facing Dongbu Promy in a best-of-seven series, which starts Saturday.
The Jeonju-based KCC beat ET-land Elephants 105-95 in the playoffs Monday to set up a final showdown against the Wonju-based side.
With another MVP-caliber performance by Ha Seung-jin, the third-seeded Egis took a third straight win against the second-seeded Elephants to earn a spot in the finals. The 221cm-tall center Ha got 21 points and 12 rebounds, and guard Kang Byung-hyun added 19 points to help the team knock out Elephants in a best-of-five playoff series.
They will now face the fourth-seeded Promy, which defeated the top-seeded KT Sonicboom, in the final series.
Dongbu claimed the sixth finals spot with a 81-68 victory over Sonicboom on Sunday. Park Ji-hyun scored 22 points and Kim Joo-sung added 11 points to help the team win the playoffs with a 3-1 record.
Dongbu and KCC have met six times this season, with the Wonju side winning five games and losing just one. The Egis, however, are seen as holding a slight edge over the Promy, as the Jeonju-based team boasts the country’s tallest center in Ha.
KCC Egis center Ha Seung-jin (Yonhap News)
Dongbu forward Kim Joo-sung (Yonhap News)
Ha, 25, won the championships title with the KCC in his debut season in 2009. Last year, though, he had a disappointing season that saw the team being knocked out of the champions finals by the Mobis Phoebus. He had to sit out much of the final series due to an injury.
“I still feel shame for the championships last season,” Ha said after the Monday’s game. He added that he was determined to win this year’s championship.
“I want to make up for my lost time, my injuries,” he added.
KCC Egis manager Hur Jae said he believes his team has a 50-50 chance of winning.
“Two years ago, we beat Dongbu in the playoffs. But they are different now, they have become stronger,” Hur said.
The 46-year-old manager pointed out Dongbu’s Kim Joo-sung as a player who is certain to trouble his defenders.
The 205cm-tall power-forward Kim is not only the offensive cornerstone of the Promy but also guide the team’s defense.
“How to stop Kim is the key to winning the title,” Hur added.
Meanwhile, Promy manager Kang Dong-hee said he was “excited” to meet Hur in the finals. The two former national players had played together for more than 10 years on the same team, before starting their coaching career.
“We’re still very close. We’re like brothers out side of the court. But a game is a game. I’ll try my best to win the title,” Kang said.
The first leg of the 2010-2011 KBL championship finals is scheduled Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the Egis’ home in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province.
By Oh Kyu-wook (email@example.com