Korea have made three changes to the team that finished fourteenth at the 2018 World Championships in Hamburg, Germany, for the 2019 Asia Oceania Championships in Pattaya, Thailand next week.
Chi Won Lee and Ho Yong Kim come into the side along with Sangyeol Kim, who returns to his national team following two seasons playing in Europe at Spain’s BSR ACE Gran Canaria, last playing for Korea in the 2017 Asia Oceania Championships held in Beijing, China.
Korea’s Head Coach, Sa Hyun Han, said:
“Due to personal health problems, one player can not participate in this important tournament. However, I believe there won’t be any problem with the team’s balance. Our selection still includes key players Dong Hyeon Gim, Seung Hyun Cho, and Dong Suk Oh. We also have Jun Seong Kwak as a new player, but our team has high hopes for him.”
The 2019 Asia Oceania Championships acts as the Asia Oceania zone’s qualification tournament for the wheelchair basketball competition at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, and Korea will have to finish in the top three (excluding Japan) to ensure a ticket to Tokyo.
Korea has only ever qualified once for a Paralympic Games, Sydney in 2000, but Coach Han believes they are in with a good chance this time:
“I think the main contenders in the men’s competition will be us, Iran and Australia. Of course, Japan too, but they get the spot automatically since they are the host. I think the Asia Oceania Zone still has a gap between top-ranking teams and the lower-ranking teams and unless there is an unforeseen incident, I believe the results will be as expected for this tournament.
“Our team goal is, of course, to go to Tokyo 2020. In Korea, team sports have not yet achieved any medals. We will prepare our best to get medals.”
Despite his high expectations for the team, preparations for the competition have been tough, he continued:
“Due to national league games and national representative training schedule, we don’t have any time to rest. All the players are trying their best to control their health and the busy schedule. As their coach, I feel both sorry for them, but I’m also satisfied we are prepared.”
Leading Korea as their captain will be 35-year-old, Seung Hyun Cho, who made his international debut back in 2007. He also reiterated the demands of preparing for the tournament:
“We participated in many international tournaments to learn strategies and gain experience. We have very high hopes since we strengthened the team’s organizational capability. In Mitsubishi Electric World Challenge Cup 2019, we could not show our best. However, nearly all the key players are participating in this tournament and we are looking forward to show improvements in our plays.”
Cho, who averaged 11 points per game at the 2018 World Championships for Korea, is looking forward to representing his country once again. He said:
“It’s an honour to participate in this tournament as a national representative and have a chance to gain a spot for Tokyo 2020. My personal goal is to play at my best and show one of the best plays in Asia to prove Korea’s potential, and our team goal is to win back the title of Asian Champions from Iran and win a place at Tokyo 2020.”
Korea will open their 2019 Asia Oceania Championship campaign against Australia on Saturday 30 November at 9.30am (local time).
|3||Chi Won Lee||2.5||39|
|4||Ho Yong Kim||3||47|
|6||Woo Sung Hwang||2||36|
|10||Dong Suk Oh||2||32|
|11||Jun Seong Kwak||1||29|
|12||Dong Gil Yang||4||28|
|14||Dong Ju Lim||2||31|
|16||Youn Joo Lee||3.5||34|
|23||Seing Hyun Cho||4||35|
|28||Dong Hyeon Gim||4||31|
|47||Sang Ha Baek||1||40|
South Korea Past Results
2018 – Hamburg, Germany – 14th
2014 – Incheon, Korea – 6th
2010 – Birmingham, United Kingdom – 11th
2002 – Kitakyushu, Japan – 11th
1998 – Sydney, Australia – 11th
2000 – Sydney, Australia – 11th
Main Photograph credit: Gero Müller-Laschet / Koln 99ers RBC