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Bang Finds His Game, to SK’s Delight

Posted December. 24, 2005 03:00,   


This season’s biggest basketball news story was 23-year-old Bang Sung-yoon’s return to Korea. Bang played well last year with the NBA’s Development League’s Roanoke Dazzle, averaging 27 minutes of playing time and 12.5 points scored per game in the 41 games he played in.

His sudden return to Korea to play for SK coincided with five straight losses and five consecutive victories for his new club. The team’s game results curve took a dive and came back up, and so did its assessment of Bang Sung-yoon, which started at “disappointing” and ended in, “after all is said and done, Bang saved the day.”

How did he take the news? When he walked into SK’s Yongin gym for practice on December 22, Bang responded. “There had been a major switch in the team’s roster, and I was one of their three replacements. It’s asking too much if you expect the team to start on top. I wasn’t in my top condition to begin with.”

Bang felt the burden of the spotlight when he first landed in Korea, and there were differences between Korean and American basketball.

“In the NBDL, a player sticks to his assigned task. Each player focuses on what he does best. I was a shooter. Whenever I made a pass when I could have made a shot, the coach would scold me, saying, “There are others who can pass better than you do.” In Korea you’re expected to make passes and rebound. I think it’s because there are fewer players here.”

Bang seems to be concentrating more on team play as he spends more time in Korea. Looking into SK’s five losses and five victories, Bang’s average points scored stayed the same at 17.6 points, while his rebounds increased from 4.2 to 6.2 per game, and his assists increased from 1.8 to 2.6 per game.

Whatever happened to his dream of playing in NBA?

“I will try again when another opportunity knocks. I have had my personal reasons for returning to Korea this year. My goal now is to lead SK to victory,” said Bang.

After the interview, he seemed to light up like a child who received a Christmas present as he started practice. His statement, “Win or lose, I always enjoy playing basketball,” was true.

Sung-Kyu Kim kimsk@donga.com