For three KBL teams, superstition is the name of the game

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For three KBL teams, superstition is the name of the game

The jinx is a big deal in sports. Superstitions are as much a part of the game as warm-ups and jazzy halftime shows, and athletes often run through strict routines to ward off bad luck on the courts and fields.

Several Korean Basketball League teams seem to be under a curse this season. The Mobis Phoebus, KCC Egis and Samsung Thunders are the teams that have suffered the most.

Despite its impressive overall record, Mobis has tended to underperform on its home court. The team is in first place with 30 wins and 11 losses, but its record at home is a less-than-spectacular 14 wins and eight losses. Up until December of last year, Mobis had won eight and lost seven games at home.

“At the time, it did not feel like we were playing on home court,” said Mobis head coach Yoo Jae-hak. “If we hadn’t won 13 consecutive games on the road, we could have fallen below the middle of the pack in the league standings.”

Yoo seemed relieved at having posted six wins and one loss in the past seven games.

“We didn’t have a tight schedule at home. We just happened not to be in the greatest physical condition, and we went up against tough teams,” recalled Yoo.

Yang Dong-geun, the squad’s starting shooting guard, couldn’t explain his team’s mediocre record at home but said, “Some of my teammates have said their shots seems to fall better on the road.”

The KCC Egis has the blues of different sort: It can’t seem to find a way to win on Saturdays. At 28 wins and 12 losses, KCC is currently ranked third in the league standings. You wouldn’t know it from its Saturday record: four wins and eight losses, far below average.

KCC was riding a five-game winning streak until it lost to the lowly KT&G Kites on Jan. 23. Of course, that was a Saturday. To make matters worse, KCC’s top big man, Ha Seung-jin, went down with an injury in the game. On an interesting note, KCC has won all its Friday and Sunday games this season, three on Fridays and six on Sundays.

“I can’t seem to find a reason. It’s not like our players are less prepared for the Saturday games,” lamented KCC’s PR manager, Cho Jin-ho, with a sigh.

“The players know of the jinx and speak often of the need to break out of the funk. It can become a big burden in the playoffs or the finals.”

The Samsung Thunders suffer from a third kind of jinx. Since trading away Terrence Leather, its top scoring man from last season, Samsung has been hard-pressed for wins. From its first game without Leather on Jan. 9 against the ET Land Elephants to Sunday’s matchup against the Dongbu Promy, Samsung has lost six consecutive games.

Although the Thunders had earned the moniker “Samsung Leathers” due to the star’s prominent role on the squad, the losing skid is baffling. Samsung boasts a respectable roster filled with veterans such as Lee Sang-min, Kang Hyuk, Lee Jung-seok and Lee Kyu-sup.

“Since we’ve been struggling, we’re hearing all sorts of stories. There’s only one cure, and that’s to end the losing streak as soon as possible,” said Samsung official Jung Sung-sool.

While some teams can’t seem to shake off their jinx, others have inexplicable luck when it comes to certain situations. The ET Land Elephants, ranked seventh in the league with a record of 14 wins and 27 losses, lost 13 straight games early on in the season. But it’s nearly unbeatable when it comes to Saturday games.

The Elephants have a record of seven wins and two losses on Saturdays this season. In January, the Elephants have played in four games and won three of them. The latest win, a 78-72 effort over the KT Sonic Boom, came on Jan. 23.

And the win that ended the dreadful losing streak that began started the season? It also came on a Saturday. The Elephants defeated Samsung 74-71 at home on Nov. 21.

“It’s good to win on Saturdays, but winning on days when newspapers are not published hurts a bit. It would be great if we performed on weekdays like we do on Saturdays,” said ET Land official Kim Sung-hyeon.


By Kim Jong-ryok, Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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