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Let’s Cheer for the Last Place Finisher

Posted April. 21, 2004 20:55,   


The perennial last place finisher has grown up into a champion.

When the buzzer rang signaling the end of the game, foreign and domestic players embraced each other and tears ran because at that dream-like moment, a perennial loser, the Kumho Life Insurance basketball team, became a champion.

On April 21, in the fourth game of the Winter Female Basketball League 2004 championship series, which was held at Jangchung Gymnasium in Seoul, Kumho defeated the Samsung Insurance basketball team by the score of 73 to 68, recording three wins and one loss in the series to secure a firm grip on their championship victory. Though Kumho lost the first game, they obtained three consecutive victories after that.

It was the first championship for Kumho Life Insurance basketball team, which has finished in last place since its establishment in 2000. On the other hand, Samsung has been a semifinal winner for four consecutive basketball seasons. Kumho’s point guard, Kim Ji-yoon, who recorded 13 points and four assists, was selected as the MVP of the game. After facing five tie scores and several reversals, Kumho led the game by 38 to 33 at the end of the first half. Thanks to consecutive three points shots by Lee Uhn-joo (7 points) and Jackson (28 points) at the beginning of the third quarter, Kumho dominated the second half of the game, leading by as much as twenty, 57 to 37. Despite the endeavors of ace players such as Lee Mi-seon (16 points) and Park Jung-eun (14 points), who reduced Kumho’s lead to 71 to 68 by the end of the game, Samsung failed to turn the tide.

Since Kim Tae-il’s inauguration at the beginning of this season, Kumho was able to resuscitate into a totally different basketball team through trades and selecting new players. They employed the best Korean guard, Kim Ji-yoon, from the Kookmin Bank team, and Lee Uhn-joo, the leading figure of the Shinsegae team, which has accomplished four championship victories so far. Their selection of renowned new player, Jung Mi-ran, at the new player draft provided them with great momentum as well.

The team’s head coach, Kim Tae-il, who achieved the championship victory in his first year, didn’t conceal his smile, stating, “It’s never better than this.” Kumho will be restricted to only one foreign player like the other teams starting from next season.

Won-Hong Lee bluesky@donga.com