Jeon Chang-jin, the head coach of the TG Sambo Xers, lit up the last of 20 cigarettes in only four hours, after his team was beaten by KCC Egis in Game 4 on Tuesday. The series is now tied at 2-2, and the shock of losing two games after sweeping the first two games at home almost ruined his nerves.
KCC Egis head coach Shin Sun-woo, on the other hand, celebrated the victory with friends over traditional Korean cuisine. The victory was more meaningful because it completely went against the analysts` expectation that KCC could not overcome TG.
The nail-biting Jeon now clearly understands how crucial it is to win Game 5 in the best-of-seven series. In the 2003 Korean Basketball League (KBL) finals, TG defeated the Orions in the decisive Game 5 and went on to win the championship. In 2004, however, TG lost to KCC in Game 5, and KCC eventually won the championship.
Jeon called in Yang Gyung-min, Shin Ki-sung, and Kim Joo-sung, the three Korean starters, separately for an hour meeting each to change the atmosphere of the team. Jeon said, "It is crucial to survive KCC`s unpredictable trap and zone defense. There will be fundamental change in our offensive and defensive patterns." He also added that he benched the starters early in Game 4 to prepare for the next game.
Shin, on the other hand, whose team already exceeded the team owner`s initial aim of being within the top four for this year, looked composed, saying, "We already achieved our initial goal."
KCC`s daily training lasted only an hour on Wednesday afternoon, which is approximately half of the normal training time. But Shin did not hide his wish to win the championship, saying that KCC has a decent chance of winning if the players battle hard for the rebounds and shoot above 40 percent on the court. Shin won the finals against Kia Motors as a head coach of Hyundai in 1998 after losing the first two games. Hyundai lost Game 5 but managed to sweep the remaining games to win the championship.
Most basketball experts say that TG has a better chance of winning because of its height advantage. KCC`s upswing moods and TG`s regaining its confidence are cited as the decisive factors.