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Suh’s Power and Speed Overcame Lee’s Height

Posted October. 03, 2002 22:44,   


Suh Chang-hoon (28, 2m7cm), the highest South Korean ford, looked like a small kid. When he stood next to Lee Myung-hoon (35, 2m35cm), the highest man in the world, Suh’s statue reached up only to the shoulder of Lee. But height is not all about basketball. Suh in his mid 30s exceeded Lee in terms of power and skills.

It was a quarterfinal between North’s and South’s men’s teams held on Oct. 3 at Kumjung Stadium in Busan. It was the first match between them in 9 years. At 28 second of the first quarter, Suh made a dunk even in the face of Lee. It was the first goal for South.

Usually, Suh is not so swift. But he was different in that quarterfinal. He was rushing trough the court, and dared to push deep down under the basket, taking advantage of Lee’s weakness of slowness. Thinking that the more Lee would run the weaker his stamina would be, Suh ran into each corner of the court, eventually making Lee move more and exhaust quicker.

But Lee would not yield as expected. He blocked many shoots with his long, long arms. In addition, his feeding also stood out by giving assists to his teammates when their dashing was thwarted. He even threw himself to the court in the middle of the struggle to grab a loose ball. Just before the end of the game, he made a two-hand dunk, and the audience gave a big cheering.

When the game was over, Suh approached Lee, and both shook hands with each other as friends. Suh said, “Lee’ standing itself felt threatening. His height reaches almost to the basket. I have played in numerous games. But I have never been so nervous before. While running, I heard the cheering of the fans. I feel honored to be part of a game of such historic meaning.” Suh, during 34 minutes and 29 seconds, recorded 22 points and 14 rebounds while Lee, during 36 minutes and 13 seconds, 14 points, 3 rebounds and 4 blockings.

Park Jeh-young, a professor at Suwon Univ., said, “North Korean team showed a simple pattern of man-to-man playing. In addition, Lee was pushed back when body-checked.” Park Han, a high-ranking official of Korea Basketball Foundation, also opined, “Lee was slow so that the whole team was out of harmony. But his defending skills were excellent.”

5,500 fans packed the stadium where giants of North and South took on each other. Also on hand were 1,000 North Korean cheering people. Fans for both teams cheered in harmony with each other.

South Korean team finished the first half 48-46, after 4 ties. In the latter half, South employed all court-pressing and, thereby sandwiched North’s shooter Park Chun-chong, which led to the 101-85 victory for it. South’s shooter Moon Kyung-eun recorded 28 points with 6 of 3-point shoots.

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com