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[Pro basketball] Joo Hi-Jung, Cho Sung-Won expected to vie for MVP

[Pro basketball] Joo Hi-Jung, Cho Sung-Won expected to vie for MVP

Posted February. 21, 2001 19:11,   


Who will become the star of stars in the 2000-2001 Korean pro basketball season? As the schedule winds down, fans are focusing on who will be named as this year`s Most Valuable Player (MVP).

The competition for the coveted award has narrowed to a duel between Joo Hi-Jung, 24, of Samsung Thunders and Cho Sung-Won, 30, of LG Sakers. Their performance in the season`s few remaining games will go a long way toward determining which player earns the league`s most prestigious honor.

Despite their success, neither player still toils for his original team. Joo was traded to Samsung from Narae, predecessor of the Sambo team, where he was rookie of the year in 1997-1998.

Cho moved to LG from Hyundai this season and was playoff MVP of the 1998-1999 season. Both players are bidding to become regular season MVP for the first time.

Point guard Joo is thought to have an advantage in the MVP race in that he looks to be leading his team to a first-place finish. Of the previous four MVPs, only Suh Jang-Hoon of SK earned the honor while playing for a non-first-place team.

However, Cho is ahead of Joo in terms of individual statistics and he has continued to impress fans with his outstanding play down the homestretch. As of Wednesday, he led the league in three-pointers with 3.87 per game.

Cho is also the top scorer among Korean players with 26.58 points per game, which places him fourth overall. He boasts the best free throw percentage at 85.5 percent and is in second place in free throws with 5.45 per game.

Cho was chosen as MVP for November, while Joo has not yet received the monthly award.

Apparently aware of his disadvantages, Joo said humbly that it was a great honor just to be considered as a candidate for the season MVP.

Cho said winning games is more important than being named MVP, but he admitted that he would like to win the award.

Basketball writers vote to select the MVP and the results will be announced during an awards ceremony on March 8.

Kim Jong-Seok kjs0123@donga.com