Busan BNK squad. /Photo=WKBL
Busan KCC squad. /Photo=KBL
Busan’s ‘basketball siblings’ KCC Egis (KBL) and BNK Some (WKBL), who started with high expectations, have continued to wander and are not performing as well as expected before the season. Can they bounce back now that they are back at home? BNK lost 62-83, 21 points, in the first round home game of the 2023-2024 Woori Bank Woori WON Women’s Professional Basketball Championship against Cheongju KB Stars held at Sajik Indoor Gymnasium in Busan on the 20th. BNK, who recorded two consecutive losses, finished the first round with 2 wins and 3 losses.
The game on this day was BNK’s home opener this season. The reason the first home game was held at the end of the first round was because of problems with the rental of Sajik Stadium, the home stadium. As the League of Legends (LOL) 2023 World Championship quarterfinals and semifinals will be held in Sajik from November 2 to 12, BNK and KCC will not be able to enjoy the home court advantage.
Fortunately, because the KBL opened in mid-October, KCC was able to play its home opening game (October 22) before the start of the tournament. However, because the WKBL opened in early November, BNK had to play all of its first four games away. BNK, whose clubhouse is in Busan, was inevitably tired of the long travel distance.
The phrases of KCC and BNK are engraved on the court at Sajik Gymnasium in Busan. /Photo=WKBL
Before the game on the 20th, BNK coach Park Jeong-eun also mentioned this. Coach Park said, “I was exhausted from playing the previous game away, so I focused on recovery.” At the same time, he expressed his wish, “It’s been a long time since I played a home game, so I hope it’s exciting.” Regarding the fact that unlike last year, where it was plastered in red, it was also decorated in blue while using the same stadium as KCC, Coach Park said, “You could see a lot of red in the VIP seats, but there were a lot of blue areas on the bench,” and “Still, the players didn’t feel it was different. “The atmosphere is good,” he said. However, as a result, BNK was unable to produce a satisfactory home opener. BNK, who gave up a goal to Park Ji-su from the beginning, keenly felt the absence of captain Kim Han-byeol. The three members of the national team, Jin An (18 points, 11 rebounds), Hye-ji Ahn (15 points, 7 assists), and So-hee Lee (12 points), scored in double digits, but they were also not satisfied with the results. Lee So-hee did not listen to the outside gun (7 attempts, 0 success), and Ahn Hye-ji was not as good as before. In the end, they were unable to take the lead even once, and with about two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, players who had not appeared before, such as Choi Seo-yeon, Park Kyung-rim, and Moon Ji-young, were brought in, effectively raising the ‘white flag’.
The BNK team (right) is greeting the KB team after losing the game on the 20th. /Photo=WKBL
After the loss, Coach Park said, “The players got off to a bad start in the beginning and went all the way to the end. They were not in good condition. The players tried to carry out what they had prepared, but when they scored points to players other than (Park) Ji-soo, they lost energy.” He said. At the same time, he expressed regret, saying, “I felt physically difficult.” The away season was also long for KCC. KCC, which suddenly moved from Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do to Busan at the end of August ahead of the 2023-24 season, entered the Sajik Gymnasium late, making it difficult to schedule. In the end, some of the first round games were postponed to next year, and the team had to stay away for nearly a month. KCC, which had followed the pattern of ‘win-loss-win-loss’ for the first four games, fell into a four-game losing streak starting with the Anyang Jeonggwanjang game on the 7th. The performance did not meet the expectations of being called a ‘super team’ with players such as Heo Woong, La Geon-ah, Lee Seung-hyun, and Choi Jun-yong.
KCC coach Jeon Chang-jin. /Photo=KBL
After returning home on the 17th (against Sono), KCC coach Jeon Chang-jin said, “I played in the home opener, but I am not familiar with various routes such as traveling to Busan and using the gym.” He added, “The support of the crowd is important in home games.” “They have to adapt quickly,” he said. Coach Jeon continued, “(Busan) has a longer travel distance than other places, so the players need to get used to it. I think it would still be better than an away trip.” KCC succeeded in breaking its losing streak by winning 78-69 in a home game against Goyang Sono on the 17th, with Choi Jun-yong scoring 30 points. Now, the two teams are starting to complete their postponed home schedules. BNK, who played in the home opener, will play a three-game series until the game against Yongin Samsung Life Insurance on the 29th. KCC also has three consecutive home games, starting with the Korea Gas Corporation game in Daegu on the 25th, and will play six consecutive games at Sajik Gymnasium starting with the game against SK in Seoul on January 3rd next year. As we are playing on a familiar court, we need a rebound. As of the 20th, KCC is in 8th place out of 10 teams with 3 wins and 6 losses, and BNK is in 4th place out of 6 teams with 2 wins and 3 losses.
KCC officials, including coach Jeon Chang-jin (far left), visited the stadium to watch the home opening game of WKBL Busan BNK held at Sajik Gymnasium in Busan on the 20th. /Photo=WKBL
[저작권자 @머니투데이, 무단전재 및 재배포 금지]