Korea starts gold quest

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Korea starts gold quest

Korea’s national baseball team is set to start its quest for gold at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.

The national team led by Kia Tigers manager Cho Beom-hyun will gather in Busan today and hold training sessions from Tomorrow through Nov. 8 at Sajik Stadium, home of the Lotte Giants.

The 24-man roster will be in attendance for the training camp minus Chiba Lotte Marines’ Kim Tae-kyun, who is competing in the Nippon Professional Baseball Japan Series.

This year’s Korean Series winners SK Wyverns have the most representatives on the national team at seven players. However, it is unclear whether Kim Kwang-hyun, Song Eunbeom, Jung Dae-hyun, Park Kyung-oan, Jeong Keun-woo, Choi Jung and Kim Kang-min will leave the team between Nov. 4 and Nov. 5 to participate in a twogame series with Taiwan Series winner Brother Elephants of the Chinese Professional Baseball League.

Other notable players with experience in international play include southpaw pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin of the Hanhwa Eagles, Lee Dae-ho of the Lotte Giants, Choo Shin-soo of the Cleveland Indians, Bong Jung-keun of the LG Twins as well as Yoon Seok-min and Lee Yong-kyu of the Kia Tigers.

With the coaching staff deciding to select the top 24 players available for the Asian Games, Korea is hoping to take home gold. It’s biggest challenger is expected to be Taiwan, which boasts a roster of 13 NPB-based players.

Since baseball was first included as an official event at the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games, Korea, Japan and Taiwan have dominated the medal rounds with Korea leading the group with two golds, one silver and one bronze.

A total of 10 players on the Korean squad, including Choo, will also be playing with an added personal incentive in mind. A gold medal will exempt the players from their mandatory military service, which is about two years.

The national team will play two to three exhibition games with KBO teams before departing for Guangzhou, China on Nov. 10.

Korea plays its opening match against Taiwan on Nov. 13 and faces Hong Kong (Nov. 14) and Pakistan (Nov. 16).

If Korea finishes in the top two of the group, it advances to face the winner or runner-up of Group A in the semi-finals on Nov. 18. The gold medal game will take place on Nov. 19.

By Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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