Top hoops players coming together for pro-amCollege hoop players will throw down the gauntlet to professionals as the KB Pro-Am Basketball Championship kicks off its second edition tomorrow.
The pro-am, which pits 16 teams against one another, will be held at Jamsil Students’ Gymnasium in Seoul through Aug. 22.
It’s the second time the event is being held after its launch in November revived the tradition of a matchup between college and corporate teams. Intended as an annual event, it was scheduled in the summer this year to address complaints regarding its intrusion into the Korean Basketball League’s midseason.
Last year, many KBL teams sat out their top players during the pro-am to give them a break before the opening of the second half of the season. College players will also be more motivated at this year’s event, which is held before a rookie draft for the 2013-14 season in October. All seven college teams in last year’s event failed to advance to the quarterfinals.
This year, five of the 16 teams are college teams - Kyung Hee, Korea, Yonsei, Hanyang and Konkuk. The other non-professional team is the military team Sangmu, with which KBL players play to serve their alternative compulsory military duty.
Like last season, Yonsei will meet the Seoul SK Knights, coached by Yonsei alumnus Moon Kyung-eun in the first knockout stage. Last season, the Knights won, 77-69.
Kyung Hee, which has star guard Kim Min-goo, who was selected as one of the top five players during the just-finished FIBA Asia Championship, will play Jeonju KCC Egis. Korea University will face off against the Goyang Orions, while Hanyang will vie against Busan KT Sonicboom. Konkuk will compete with the Anyang KGC. Defending champion Sangmu will play against the Changwon LG Sakers. Sangmu won the inaugural title, beating Incheon ET-Land Elephants, 65-61, in the final.
In matchups between professionals, the Wonju Dongbu Promy will square off against the Ulsan Mobis Phoebus, while the Seoul Samsung Thunders will play against Incheon.
The Basketball Festival was the last basketball pro-am in Korea before it became an amateur-only event after the creation of the KBL in 1997.
The colleges have won nine of the Basketball Festivals since then. Sangmu won the other six titles.
BY MOON GWANG-LIP [firstname.lastname@example.org]