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Spirits v. Professionalism

Posted April. 10, 2003 22:25,   


On April 9th, in Chiak Stadium in Wonjoo City, Kwangwon Province. Oldest South Korean pro basketball player Huh Jae was rubbing his right eye in the locker room, waiting for the 4th game of the championship tournament. "Tears coming down often. I may be getting old. And I`m losing my eyesight…"

In the same place on the same day, Dongyang`s forward Marcus Hix is making a face, full of pain, loosening his shoes, after finishing up the first half of the 4th game against TG. "Feel my left foot getting torn apart. But I will keep playing."

Getting closer to his forties, Huh Jae confessed that he feels he`s losing power. He also complains that his eyesight is getting worse. Running through all games, Hix is also crippling on the court due to the pain on his left foot.

Nonetheless, there is no room for both of them to take a break. The post-season is getting close to the end, and, at this time of the moment, it`s a luxury to have some rest to take care.

Leading his team, TG, to victory in the first and second game, Huh Jae recorded 13 assists, running the longest time during the championship for the forth. Prior to the game, Huh Hae said, "The final victory is determined today. We have to win by all means." Contrary to his determination, his team lost the game and he had to left the court with a bitter feeling. Despite all the fatigue he felt, he convened a contingency meeting in the evening, which lasted for two hours. He encouraged his teammates as the oldest folk in the team.

"It`s OK. We can start a new. Once we muster up and team up with each other, we will win the title."

Every time he ran more than expected on the court, he ate more. He`s working out every day. Maybe, this is the last time he could grab the championship title. That seems why he has committed all to winning the title. TG coach Chun Chang-jin said with sigh, "I wish I could help him. I know it is tough to keep himself up and running on the court, now. But, he`s taking care of each and every other teammate."

Defending the championship, Marcus wishes to be at the center of the efforts. On average, he ran 38.5 minutes, recording 24.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. He has also blocked 11 shoots so far, posing a great "threat" to the opponents. His physical condition, however, was almost near the bottom. His foot is almost killing him. In addition, he had his ankle sprained in the second game. Nevertheless, once he entered the court, he was flying here and there. Marcus said, "Now, we are at a critical moment. I can stand the pain. It`s actually nothing to me. The only pain I felt was the lost command of shooting from lack of training." Dongyang`s coach Kim Jin praised him and was quoted as saying, "His professionalism has motivated other teammates."

Both teams are now at a draw, with each winning two. The dedicated spirits of Huh and Marcus will call the shots once again in the fifth, which will be held today.

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com