‘Tis the season for welcomes, and as the 2023-2024 Korean Basketball Association enters its second round, some familiar faces are returning. These are players who have served in the military.
Heo Hoon (KT), Song Kyo-chang (KCC), Ahn Young-jun (SK), Kim Nak-hyun (Korea Gas Corporation), Yoo Hyun-jun (DB), and 11 others are returning after completing their national defense duties on the 15th. 카지노사이트 Many of these players are game-changers for their respective teams, but the two teams that welcome Heo and Song, the two “big stars,” will have a mixed bag for the time being. The difference in immediate effect is inevitable.
The first to smile is KT. After finishing the first round with a leap to second place (6-3), KT can enjoy the “comeback effect” heading into the second round. Heo Hoon is eligible to play as soon as he is discharged from the military. “He’s prepared well enough to return from his terminal leave (pre-military leave) and start training immediately,” said KT head coach Song Young-jin. Given his current physical condition and fitness, Song says there shouldn’t be any problems with him playing right away. If so, Heo’s debut will be against Seoul SK in a “telecom rivalry match” at home in Suwon on April 18.
KT’s joy doesn’t stop there. Just in time for Heo Hoon’s return, Moon Sung-gon is also back from injury. Moon Sung-gon, who was acquired from Anyang Jungkwanjang as a free agent last spring, has been sidelined with a hamstring injury. In an interview during the Ulsan Hyundai Mobis game on the 13th, Coach Song hinted at Moon’s return, saying, “He is doing adaptation training in the D-League and is preparing to play in the next game (on the 18th).”
There’s no better ‘icing on the cake’ for KT as they look to rebound and regain the lead in the second round. Their return will complete KCC’s unenviable national team lineup of Heo Hoon, Moon Sung-gon, Ha Yoon-ki, and Moon Jung-hyun. KT, which had a winning percentage of nearly 7 percent even when Heo and Moon were out of the lineup, has received envious glances, saying, “It’s only a matter of time before we continue to rise.” In particular, homegrown big man Ha Yoon-ki welcomes the duo more than anyone else. Ha Yoon-ki is currently averaging a career-high 19.6 points and 7.0 rebounds in his third year as a professional this season, thanks to the help of specialist Paris Bass to keep opposing teams in check. He joined up with his “two brothers,” who had a great chemistry on the national team.
Ha Yun-ki says of Heo Hoon, “I knew him from the national team just by looking at him. I’m looking forward to playing two-on-two with him.” In addition, Moon Sung-gon is such a master of defense that Ha Yoon-ki gave him a “thumbs up” when he said, “When I was playing for the national team, if I had a hole in the back, Moon Sung-gon was always there to fill it. With Ha Yoon-ki, who usually plays the opposing foreigner matchup, taking the burden of defense off his shoulders, KT becomes even scarier. “I’m going to try to win the MVP in the second round,” he said.
KCC, on the other hand, will be happy to see the return of their unstoppable powerhouse Song Kyo-chang, but not immediately. The recent return of free agent Choi Joon-yong from injury has given them a breath of fresh air, but it remains to be seen if it will have the same ‘double effect’ as KT’s. Song Kyo-chang, who didn’t even make it to Hangzhou after suffering a knee injury during a practice game with the Hangzhou Asian Games team, is still recovering. His recovery has been slow and he is reportedly still feeling pain. Given the trauma of suffering a horrific finger fracture in 2021, KCC decided not to rush Song’s return.
“We will first play him in a D-League game around the 20th or 21st of next week and then observe his condition,” said Choi Hyung-gil. “Medically, he is fine, but if he feels the slightest discomfort, we will always wait. We shouldn’t be too cautious,” indicating that Song’s return could be delayed.