|▲ Lee Hyun-joong (top) and Yeo Jun-seok (bottom) ⓒ Korea Basketball Association|
[스포티비뉴스=맹봉주 기자] It was a profitable defeat.
Korea lost 80-94 to Venezuela in the first round of Group A of the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Tokyo Olympics final qualifier held in Kaunas, Lithuania at 1:30 a.m. (Korean time) on the 1st.
It was not easy to qualify for the Olympics, the first challenge in 25 years since 1996. From the beginning of the game, I felt the power difference and was dragged.
There were too many loopholes in attack and defense. First of all, basic ball guarding was not done properly in the attack. The error did not complete the attack and the ball was easily passed to Venezuela.
Defensively, he couldn’t cope with the opponent’s 2v2 play at all. The front defenders were easily caught on the screen, and the Venezuelan players actively used it to successfully shoot outside as they set their minds on it.
It was Lee Hyun-joong (21, 201 cm) and Yeo Jun-seok (19, 203 cm) who saved Korea in the second half. The two players made their first senior national team debut in the 2021 Asian Cup qualifier held in June. Lee Hyun-joong was born in 2000 and Yeo Jun-seok was born in 2002, making him the youngest player in the national team.
Lee Hyun-joong, who played an active role as Korea’s ace from the Asian Cup qualifiers, was not discouraged even in the bigger stage, the Olympic final qualifier. He used his teammates’ screens to create open chances, and shot a 3-point shot with quick timing and high RBI.
In particular, the mid-range shot that suddenly stopped speed during the 3rd quarter fast-fire process aroused the admiration of the fans. Defensively, he showed a presence with steals and deflection. Lee Hyun-joong scored the most points among players from both teams with 18 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals, including three 3-pointers.
Yeo Jun-seok, who came out of the bench, was also dazzling. Although the playing time was short, the play using his athletic ability was impressive. In the fourth quarter, he blocked his shot with a great flight time. He also scored goals with a confident fight in the attack. He did his part with eight runs, including four from five field throws.
Korea, who recorded one loss, will play the second group match against Lithuania at 1:30 am on the 2nd. Basketball fans are looking forward to the performance of Lee Hyun-joong and Yeo Jun-seok against the powerful Lithuania.
Lithuania includes NBA leaguers Jonas Valenschnas (29, 211 cm) and Domantas Sabonis (25, 211 cm). They are indispensable key players for the Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers, respectively, and have top-class skills in the NBA.
Realistically, it is not easy for Korea to break through the group stage and secure a ticket to the Olympic finals. Then, like the growth of Lee Hyun-joong and Yeo Jun-seok, there must be something to gain even if you lose.
■ 오늘의 스포츠 소식 ‘스포츠 타임(SPORTS TIME)’은 매일 밤 10시 SPOTV에서 볼 수 있습니다.