Professional basketball team Anyang’s Jung Kwan-jang is at it again. This time, the team ended Wonju DB’s eight-game winning streak after an undefeated start to the season.
On November 10, the team defeated DB 99-94 in a regular season game of the 2023-2024 Korean Basketball League at Wonju General Gymnasium. DB suffered its first loss of the season, dropping to 7-1, but maintained its lead. With their third straight win, the DB moved into a tie for second place with the Ulsan Hyundai Mobis and Changwon LG with a 5-3 record.
Looking at the lineup that led to the victory, it was noticeable that it was a far cry from last season’s championship team. Lee Jong-hyun, Choi Sung-won, and Jung Hyo-geun are newcomers to the team this season, while Daryl Monroe and Park Ji-hoon are backups. However, Monroe led the way with 22 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists, while Park Ji-hoon controlled the game with 15 points and 4 assists. The three transfers combined for 34 points and 13 rebounds to support the one-two punch.
Jung Kwan-jang lost franchise star and Korea’s best big man Oh Se-geun to SK and defensive specialist Moon Sung-gon to KT before the season. Byun Joon-hyung joined a commercial organization and Yang Hee-jong retired. In addition, foreign player Omari Spellman, their ace, was sidelined with an early injury.
With a completely new team, Chung filled the gaps by bringing in transfer players, but there’s no denying that the team is significantly weaker than last season. In fact, with most of their rivals having upgraded their squads, there were many experts who gave the team a negative rating, saying that they could not guarantee a top-six finish this season. During the home opener, some home fans showed their dissatisfaction with the club’s management through a banner protest.레모나토토 도메인
However, Chung was not to be deterred. The team had a bit of a rocky start to the season, but as the days went on, they stabilized and booked more than five wins before the end of the first round. The resurgence of Lee Jong-hyun and the growth of Park Ji-hoon were at the center of this.
National team center Lee Jong-hyun was a member of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games winning team and one of the most highly touted prospects in Korea as the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, but he hasn’t developed as much as expected after suffering several major injuries since entering the pros. In recent years, he has become a juggernaut, bouncing between teams from Hyundai Mobis to Goyang Carot (now Goyang Sono) to KCC, but his status has diminished to the point where he has struggled to secure playing time.
After putting aside all his pride, Lee Jong-hyun met with coach Kim Sang-sik and asked for a chance. The team was in desperate need of a big man after the departure of Oh Se-geun, but they didn’t have high hopes for Lee Jong-hyun.
However, Jong-hyun has been averaging 8.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.9 blocked shots, and 59.1 percent shooting from the field in a Jungkwanjang uniform this season. Considering he’s still only averaging 18 minutes and 28 seconds per game, this is top-notch production for a native big man. With SK’s Oh Se-geun (5.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 28.2 percent shooting) struggling mightily in the early going, it’s made Lee Jong-hyun’s performance all the more impressive, as he’s filled the void quite well.
On the 2nd, Jong-hyun recorded his first double-double in 1772 days with 13 points and 10 rebounds in just 13 minutes in a 96-74 win over Samsung Electronics. On the 7th, he scored just four points against KCC, the team he played for until last season, but made a huge contribution on defense with eight rebounds, three blocked shots, and two steals in a 74-72 win.
The DB game, played in three days, was Lee’s best game of the season. Jong-hyun scored a career-high 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds. His nine points and six rebounds in the first half alone helped Jung Kwan-jang take control of the game. Lee Jong-hyun also showed his aggressive defense and rebounding against DB’s famous triple post of Kim Jong-kyu, Kang Sang-jae, and Lawson.
It was a marked change from last season, when he was criticized for being passive and avoiding battles. This is why coach Kim Sang-sik has been lavishing praise on Jong-hyun lately throughout the three-game winning streak. The last time Jong-hyun played more than 20 minutes per game was in the 2018-19 season with Hyundai Mobis (20:31, 7.9 points, 5 rebounds).
With Byun Joon-hyung’s military enlistment, Park Ji-hoon has taken on the enormous responsibility of being the starting guard this season. With elite guards like Heo Hoon at KT and Lee Jae-do (LG) and Byun Jun-hyung (LG) as teammates, he was always battling for a starting spot and being a bench player, but only this season did he get a chance to establish himself as a full-time starter.
Park Ji-hoon was the solution to the DB battle. With the score tied at 91-91 with 50 seconds left in the game, Park regained the lead with a layup and then calmly sank the free throws that resulted from DB’s foul play to seal the game.
So far this season, Park is having a career-high season, averaging 11.8 points, 4.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.1 steals in 29 minutes per game. While he still has his ups and downs, he plays a key role in the fast-paced offense that coach Kim Sang-sik wants to play, and his ability to come through in the clutch at crucial moments is reminiscent of last season’s variation.
Since his days with KGC, Chung has produced many star players with his ‘fire and fury’ style of basketball. Park Chan-hee, Jeong-seong-hyun, Moon Sung-gon, Jae-do, and Byun Joon-hyung have all continued the tradition of developing into All-Star caliber players, not to mention Oh Se-geun and Lee Jeong-hyun, who represented the KBL in the 2010s.
This season, the team is performing miracles not only in player development but also in rehabilitation, leading to the resurgence of Lee Jong-hyun and the growth of Park Ji-hoon, whose talents have not been matched for years. The defending champions, who everyone expected to be weakened, are expected to make the KBL even more interesting.