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"Open NBA"

Posted January. 07, 2003 22:35,   


Aiming to become the first Korean NBA player!

Bong Sung-yoon (21, Yensei Univ.) aims high. He joined the Korean national team when he was just a high school student. He was the only college student among the players who got Korea the championship in the Asian Games for the first time in 20 years. Literally, he is the one who will lead Korea in the future. He is also the future for his school. Yensei University grabbed 4 championships in a row last year. Behind all these triumphs stood Bong.

Bong weighs 100kg (or approximately 240 lb.), and stands 195cm (or approximately 6.5 feet), reminding us of Hyun Joo-hyup. In addition, he boasts of agility and flexibility, which come from his practicing Taekowndo in childhood. His playing style, which is characterized by power and swiftness, also resembles that of Hyun. Bong`s strongest advantage lies in making accurate shoots. His two-point shooting succeeds 80%, while his three-pointer gets into the basket 6 out of 10 times. He is a "multiplayer" who could successfully take any position on the court.

That is why he is always surrounded by fans. And that is why pro team coaches are dying to have him in.

What Bong really aims, however, is not the Korean pro league. He dreams of playing in the NBA, a dream that none of the Korean star basketball players has ever made come true.

The future, however, looks bright. The NBA, which has been watching its fame declining, is now open to recruitment of world stars. Therefore, if Bong can prove himself, the dream will not end up as a pipe dream. Good examples are Chinese players like Yao Ming.

Successful advance into the NBA hinges on Bong`s stamina and skills to overcome the "height barrier." Most Korean commentators and experts believe Bong is ready to jump over the barrier.

Orions` coach Kim Jin, who led the national team in the last Busan Asian Games, says, "He has everything: power, technique and excellent ability to make accurate shoots."

Park Han, senior official of the Korean Basketball Association, evaluates Bong as a player of megaton power. Park predicts, "I have nothing more to desire of Bong. He throws accurate shoots and plays excellently under the basket. If he gets 2-3 years of experience and builds up more speed, he will stand out even in the NBA."

Yensei`s coach Kim Nam-gee said, "If Bong advances to the NBA, he should take the position of a shooting guard. To tap on the possibility, we will move over to the United States this summer for training purposes."

Sang-Ho Kim hyangsan@donga.com