Cheongju KB, a women’s professional basketball team that lacked a backbone, ended the Park Shinjah Cup International Tournament in fourth place.
KB lost 74-79 to Japan’s Aeneos Sunflowers in the third-place game at Cheongju Gymnasium in Chungcheongbuk-do on Wednesday.
Established in 2015 after Park Shin-ja, who is considered a legend in Korean women’s basketball, the Park Shin-ja Cup was held as a tournament to discover off-season prospects until last year, but this year it was reorganized into an international tournament format where even mainline players can participate.
Overseas clubs have also joined the competition, and the prize money has increased from 10 million won to 30 million won.
KB and Eneos finished first and second in Group B before falling in the semifinals to Toyota (second in Group A) and Woori Bank (first in Group A) in the best-of-three series.
KB was swept in a rematch with Eneos, the reigning champions of Japan’s W-League for 11 consecutive years.
KB defeated Eneos 95-68 in the first game of Group B on Nov. 26, the first day of the tournament.
In a matchup of former WNBA players, Park scored eight points in just over eight minutes of action on the day, outperforming Japan’s Ramu Tokashiki (10 points), who played 14 minutes, but it didn’t translate into a win for her team.
KB, who left their star player Park Ji-soo out of the starting lineup, fell behind early in the game to Aeneos.
When Park Ji-soo entered the court in the middle of the first quarter, the Cheongju fans’ cheers grew louder.
As the buzzer sounded to end the first quarter, Park Ji-soo roared as her fadeaway shot hit the rim to cut the deficit to one point, 20-21.
In the second quarter, KB answered back with a three-pointer from Kang Isul, but Kim Sodam and Lee Yoon-mi extended the lead and ended the half with a six-point advantage.
KB widened the gap in the third quarter with a three-pointer from Kim Ye-jin, then extended the lead to 12 points with three free throws from Kang Isul and a three-pointer from Heo Ye-eun.
Eneos continued to pound KB, hitting the rim with every shot they threw down, including a three-pointer by Yuka Sato at the end of the third quarter.
KB struggled to keep up with Aeneos in the fourth quarter.
The Aeneos, who had been racking up points in between missed three-pointers by Kang Isul and Kim Ye-jin, pulled to within one with 5:19 left in regulation.
KB gave up back-to-back three-pointers to Mako Fujimoto and Sayaka Okamoto to cut the deficit to 67-72 with just over three minutes left.
With two minutes left, Yoon Yoon-ah grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a layup to cut the deficit to two points, and with 1:23 left, Kang Yul’s three-point play brought them back into the game.
However, the team’s lack of backbone proved to be too much for the opponent, as they went on to lose by five points with just over a minute remaining.
Eneos was led by Okamoto’s 17 points.
KB was overshadowed by Kang Isul’s 25 points, including five 3-pointers.
In the fifth- through sixth-place matchup, Busan BNK, which finished third in Group B (2-2), defeated Incheon Shinhan Bank, which finished third in Group A (2-2), 72-53.
Shinhan Bank started to pull away early in the first quarter with a three-point play and a three-pointer from Kim Sonia, but BNK came back with a metallurgical run and a mid-range shot from Ahn Hye-ji.
BNK, which diversified its offense with Han Um-ji and Lee So-hee, ended the first quarter with a 21-15 lead against Shinhan Bank, which shot just 26 percent from the field in the first quarter.
BNK committed two consecutive Shinhan turnovers at the end of the second quarter that seemed to give the game away, but Park Jung-jeong responded with back-to-back two-pointers from Jin-an and a three-pointer from Kim Ji-eun after a BNK coach’s timeout.
After a steal just before the end of the second quarter, BNK’s Kim Min-ah hit two under the basket at the buzzer to make it 43-32 at the half.
Shinhan Bank started the third quarter with a three-pointer from Goo, looking to turn the tables.
The teams traded baskets until BNK’s Lee So-hee hit her first three-pointer of the night to extend the lead to 13 points.
Shinhan Bank had a difficult time getting back into the game as Kim Sonia missed a layup on a fast break and Kang Gye-ri’s subsequent basket missed the rim.
BNK, on the other hand, went into the fourth quarter with a 63-49 lead after Lee So-hee made two free throws with two seconds left in the third quarter.
After BNK’s Han Um-ji hit a three-pointer with 7:35 left in the game, Shinhan Bank responded with a three-pointer from Guseul, followed by two straight points from Kim Tae-yeon to start the final push.
BNK made it an 18-point game thanks to back-to-back baskets from Han Um-ji, but Shinhan Bank cut the deficit to 10 points with 2:24 left in the game thanks to two baskets from Kim Sonia.
BNK, which pulled all of its starters with about two minutes left in the game, defended its lead until the end.
BNK was paced by double-double Lee So-hee with 20 points and seven rebounds and Ahn Hye-ji with 15 points and nine assists.
Shinhan Bank was led by Kim Sonia with 20 points and nine rebounds, but it was not enough to prevent the team from losing.
China, the ‘world’s strongest team’ in table tennis, will compete at the 26th Pyeongchang Asian Table Tennis Championships in 2023 from the preliminary round, leaving South Korea and other countries on edge.
The Pyeongchang Asian Table Tennis Championships Organizing Committee held the draw for the team event on Wednesday.
According to the draw, the top-seeded Korean men’s team was paired with fourth-seeded Japan and the two qualifying teams in the quarterfinals.
This means that they could face China, who are also playing qualifiers, as early as their first game in the quarterfinals and as late as the fourth round.
The second-seeded women’s team will first face Thailand, ranked sixth in the tournament, in the quarterfinals and will likely meet China as early as the fourth round and as late as the final.
This is because China missed the last edition of the tournament in Doha, Qatar, in 2021 during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In the team event of the Asian Table Tennis Championships, the top six teams based on their performance in the previous tournament, regardless of their current ranking, will advance directly to the quarterfinals, while the two best qualifiers will join the tournament, with China, who are not seeded in this tournament, joining from the qualifiers.
Therefore, the countries already seeded for the quarterfinals are focusing all their attention on where China will start in the bracket, as they are sure to reach the quarterfinals after breezing through the qualifiers.
The men’s team is in the worst possible situation, as they could end their campaign with just one quarterfinal match.
“We all know it’s not going to be an easy fight,” said men’s head coach Joo Se-hyuk, “but we are determined to set the tone in the team competition and fight for a victory.”
Meanwhile, the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Asian Table Tennis Championships was held the previous day at the Ramada Hotel & Suites Grand Ballroom in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, with about 200 people including table tennis officials from various countries.
After the quarterfinals of the team competition on Thursday, the women’s team final will be held on Friday, followed by the men’s team final on Saturday.
On the seventh, the individual competition will be held.
Athletes from around the world will continue to compete at the Pyeongchang Dome until the 10th to secure a spot at the Busan 2024 World Table Tennis Championships. 먹튀검증