A strong defense, but KT&G Kites struggle to make shots

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A strong defense, but KT&G Kites struggle to make shots

A strong physical team which plays feisty defense is the ideal combination for a winning season. But despite boasting a strong defense, KT&G Kites cannot find a way to win.

Low-scoring games in the Korea Basketball League have become the norm this season. In a year marred by low scores, KT&G Kites is struggling to put up points.

With an offensive drought, fans are being treated to games in which a team’s single-game output is hovering around 50 and 60 points. The Daegu Orions reached an all-time low on Jan. 7, when they scored 47 points against KT&G. It was the lowest total output in the history of the KBL. The following week, on Jan. 14, ET Land and KT&G combined for 109 points total. It was the lowest total game points in the history of the league.

At the center of the record-setting season are the Kites. Aside from the game against ET Land, the Kites’ Jan. 12 match against LG Sakers, in which the two teams produced 111 points, and Jan. 17 game against SK Knights, in which the two sides reached 113 points, produced the second- and third-lowest scores of the season.

One of the reasons for the low scores is KT&G’s defense. Kites players are known to hustle on the defense, to the point where it’s not uncommon for Kites players to get ejected after maxing out on their five fouls.

“Playing strong defense is the only way for us to survive,” said KT&G head coach, Lee Sang-beom. “It is our team philosophy that even if we struggle to put up points, we should play strong defense. The starting five players work well together.”

KT&G has allowed on average 59 points per game in the past five matches. For most teams, that would be good enough for five consecutive wins. Considering how few points they allow, the Kites would merely have to put up 15 points per quarter. However, KT&G posted one win and four losses in their past five-game stretch. Despite the best defense in the league, they also have the weakest offense. In its last five games, the Kites averaged 56.4 points. Taking the season as a whole, the Kites are the league’s worst, with an average 73.6 points this season.

In the Jan. 17 game against the SK Knights, the Kites lost 63-50. Despite a strong defense, the Kites were held to four points in the third quarter. If not for backup guard Park Sung-hoon, the Kites easily could have replaced the Orions’ all-time lowest offensive output in a game. Aside from Chris Daniels and Kim Sung-chul, KT&G does not have scoring powerhouses. It makes it easy for opposing teams to lock down on the two players, and even Daniels and Kim are struggling these days. Daniels has scored seven points in the past two games and Kim, despite launching six shots from the three-point line, failed to connect.

“I have not done a good job. Our team make-up is like that of an elementary school team. Using the same offensive routes throughout the game has its limits,” said Kites coach Lee. “When the old rules allowed two overseas players to play at the same time, it was okay to have one domestic player who can chip in on the offense.”

By Kim Woo-chul [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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