Kim centered on a KBL title

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Kim centered on a KBL title



Kim Jong-kyu will never forget the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.

In last Friday’s gold medal basketball game against Iran, LG’s 6-foot-9 center was matched up against 7-foot-2 Iranian center Hamed Haddadi, but he managed to score 17 points, the second-highest on the team, in Korea’s victory.

Subsequently, Kim received hundreds of congratulatory messages on his SNS messenger and said he had missed hundreds of calls.

Most significantly, he fell in love. The 23-year-old began dating a 22-year-old student he had met through a friend.

“She used to cheer me up whenever I had a hard time preparing for the Asian Games,” said Kim. “After winning the gold medal, she asked me out first, and I appreciate it. I want to be a nice boyfriend.”

His father is 6-foot-2 and his mother 5-foot-7, and he had grown to be 6-foot-5 by ninth grade. Even though he was taller than anyone else on the court, he was agile and good at outside shots.

Such versatility was cultivated by his coach Park Ju-hyeon when he was in elementary school.

“Coach Park made me play as a forward, not a center,” said Kim. “He instructed me to dribble and shoot in many positions, instead of staying under the basket. That experience has helped me a lot.”

Kim also is a hard worker, shooting baskets through the night during his high school years and even sleeping in the gym from time to time.

The combination of innate talent and hard work produced Kim’s trademark: the dunk shot. In a game against Slovenia on Sept. 3 at the Basketball World Cup 2014 in Spain, Kim wowed the audience by dunking off a rebound over Slovenian defenders.

“I began dunking when I was in ninth grade, and I could easily dunk with one hand when I was in high school,” said Kim. “Dunk shots excite me because not many players can do them.”

After entering Kyung Hee University, he soon became famous as a member of the so-called “Kyung Hee Trio” with Kim Min-goo and Du Gyeong-min, leading the team to win many domestic and international competitions, including two university basketball league championships.

“Those experiences of winning gave me the attitude that I could win games in any circumstances,” said Kim.

In his first season in the Korea Basketball League (KBL), he led the Changwon LG Sakers to the top of the regular season standings, averaging 10.7 points per game. However, the Sakers eventually lost the championship to runner-up Ulsan Mobis Phoebus.

“I’m lucky that I could learn well from coaches Choi Bu-young [Kyung Hee University], Kim Jin [LG] and Yoo Jae-hak [national basketball team],” said Kim.

With the new season starting tomorrow, LG expects a lot from Kim.

“Kim has become more aware of basketball,” said Yoo. “He will be a different player in the new season.”

“I was so disappointed that we could not win the championship last season,” said Kim. “This time, I totally want to win the KBL championship.”


BY KIM JI-HAN [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]
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