Weekly reivewOrions suffer first consecutive loss, Phoebus rising
The Goyang Orion Orions are still No.1, but they are a bit nervous that Aaron Haynes, the league’s top scorer, is out due to injury. Over the weekend, they suffered their first consecutive loss of the season.
After a 76-66 loss at home on Saturday against the Seoul Samsung Thunders, the Orions were defeated again on Sunday by No. 2 Ulsan Mobis Phoebus 77-70. The Orions are now only one game ahead of Phoebus at the top of the league.
The bad news for the Orions is that their two games this week are all away. The Orions meet the Busan KT Sonicboom on Thursday before travelling to Wonju, Gangwon on Saturday to play against Dongbu Promy.
Defending champions Phoebus face Promy on Wednesday and Sonicboom on Saturday, hoping to extend their three game winning streak.
On Wednesday, the Thunders again failed to end their losing streak to Phoebus. The team has lost its last 23 games against the Ulsan-based team, but bounced back by beating the No.1 Orions and Seoul-rival Knights 95-77 on Sunday. They meet the Incheon ET Land Elephants on Friday and the Jeonju KCC Egis on Sunday.
The Anyang KGC will also look to stretch their eight-game winning streak this week when they face the Seoul SK Knights on Tuesday away and Promy on Sunday at home. KGC finished November without a loss, while setting the longest winning streak at home with 11 straight wins.
Player in focus: Joe Ira Clark (Mobis Phoebus)
KBL fans say he is aging backwards.
Clark is currently the oldest player in the KBL at age 40 along with Moon Tae-jong of the Goyang Orion Orions.
But technically the 2-meter (6-foot-6) tall American center is the oldest since he was born five months earlier than Moon, who turns 40
The two oldest players squared off on Sunday as No.2 Phoebus met the No.1 Orions and Clark turned out to be the winner, scoring 18 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists to help his team’s 77-70 victory. Moon had 14 points and 2 rebounds
Clark on Thursday scored 24 points and 7 rebounds to lead the team’s 93-82 victory over the Seoul Samsung Thunders. For this season, he is averaging 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
Clark first played in the KBL 10 years ago with the Orions back when the team was based in Daegu. The Texas native returned to the KBL in 2011 with the Thunders and has played five straight seasons in Korea with teams like the Changwon LG Sakers, the Busan KT Sonicboom and Phoebus.
Clark, whose nickname is “Brother Clock” as his surname sounds like clock, was mainly a replacement for other foreigners.
This season, Clark also joined Phoebus as a replacement for Leo Lyons who was ruled out because of ankle injury.
KBL foul rule changed to improve flow of game
Since Friday, KBL teams have to be aware of new rules that affect their fouling strategy.
From Friday, if a player commits a foul on another player who is outside of the offensive area of play, he will be given unsportsmanlike foul (U-foul), which will result in two free throws and ball possession to the opponent.
The KBL said it decided to adopt the rule since there were frequent situations where a player would commit a foul on an opposing team player who is not involved in offense, but it cuts the intensity and flow of the game.
For losing teams, committing a foul on players, especially those who have a low free-throw percentage, is an effective tool as they can get quick possession while not increasing the chance of allowing points by free throws.
For instance on Nov. 10, Anyang KGC forward Yang Hee-jong, who only has a 33.3 percent free throw success rate, even tried to stay off the court when Jeonju KCC Egis Kim Tae-sool tried to foul him during the game. Jeonju KCC Egis center Ha Seung-jin, whose free-throw percentage is 44.7 percent, was a frequent victim of intentional fouls by other teams.
“Although my weak free throw is the biggest culprit, I feel relieved after the rule change,” Ha said. “If the rule wasn’t changed, I always had to sit on the bench in critical moments.”
In order to avoid a U-foul, teams have to notify referees they will have a “fouling strategy,” but this will only be accepted when the game is just two minutes away from the finish.
In this case, even if a player commits a foul on another player who is out of the offense area, he will be given a personal foul.