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Hoops Star Signs With Korean League

Posted August. 02, 2006 03:01,   


The giant siblings Ha Eun-ju, 23, measuring 202 centimeters tall, and Ha Seung-jin, 21, 203 centimeters tall, are changing into new uniforms for this season.

The elder Ha, who played in Japan, signed with Shinhan Bank and will play in the Korean Women’s Basketball League. It is the first time a center taller than two meters will play in Korea since Kim Young-hee, 205 cm tall, played back in the 1980s.

She went to Japan in her last year in Sunil Girls’ Middle School, and changed her Korean nationality into Japanese in 2003 because of Japanese basketball rules that would not permit foreign players to play in their league. Playing for Chanson Cosmetics she led the team twice to the championship. Early this year, she tried to play in the American WNBA, but Chanson refused to let her go, which was a violation of her contract, and hence she declared to have her nationality restored back to Korean in June. Nevertheless, her passport still remains Japanese.

Meanwhile, the future of Ha was the greatest interest in the Korean Women’s Basketball League. She is over two meters tall, and being smart, she is expected to play much more than imported foreign players if she signs up with any team.

After a fierce bidding for her, Ha ended up settling with Shinhan Bank. Her five-year contract pays her 120 million won in the first year. The contract is subject to renegotiation over her salary every year. In other words, she will receive at least 120 million won, and might have additional bonuses if her performance is satisfactory. A Shinhan Bank team official said, “We also agreed to pay her an additional 400 million won as bonuses and commercial appearance fees.” Shinhan Bank has agreed to pay a minimum of one billion won over the next five years, in order to add Ha Eun-ju to their lineup.

At her signing ceremony, held on August 1 at Royal Hotel, Seoul, she commented, “I thought quite a lot over which Korean team would suit me. When I saw Shinhan Bank’s game at the summer league playoffs, I thought they had a good team spirit. Most of all, I wanted to play with guard Jeon Joo-won.”

Former Samsung Bichumi coach Chung Tae-kyun said, “With Ha Eun-joo added under the post where Kang Ji-sook, 198 cm tall, is guarding, Shinhan Bank has become formidable. If they acquire a decent foreign player, they will be invincible.”

On the other hand, her younger brother Ha Seung-jin, the first Korean player to play in the NBA, was traded from the Portland Trail Blazers to the Milwaukee Bucks. The team’s website posted on August 1, “we have acquired All-Star center Jamaal Magloire in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks. As part of the deal, the team sent guard Steve Blake, forward Brian Skinner and center Ha Seung-jin to the Bucks.” After being drafted by Portland as the 46th pick at the 2004 rookie draft, Ha will move to a new team in just two years. During the past two years, Ha played in 46 games, scoring an average of 1.5 points and grabbing 1.5 rebounds per game, which aren’t great numbers.

With Ha Seung-jin already on the roster of the national basketball team, if Ha Eun-ju is selected to play in the national women’s basketball team, both siblings will play at the Asian Games to be played at Doha in December of this year.