Weekly reviewPhoebus shares the lead with the struggling Orions
The Goyang Orion Orions are really struggling now that the league’s top scorer Aaron Haynes is out due to injury. Starting the 2015/16 season going 10-1, the Orions were considered possible champions, but that could’ve been overly optimistic.
After slipping into a four game losing streak by falling 95-85 to Busan KT Sonicboom on Thursday and 78-55 to Wonju Dongbu Promy on Saturday, the Orions are now sharing the lead with the defending champion Ulsan Mobis Phoebus.
The critical game is set for Friday, when the Phoebus will host the Orions. The Orions are even considering playing Haynes despite his injury.
But even before the top two teams square off, the Orions could lose their top standing as early as Wednesday. The Orions face the No. 4 Jeonju KCC Egis, which are on a four game winning streak, while on the same day, the Phoebus will meet the Incheon ET Land Elephants, which are sitting eighth.
The league title could become a three-horse race as Anyang KGC is just 1.5 games behind the two teams. The KGC had a stunning 81-65 loss against Seoul SK Knights on Tuesday to end their eight-game winning streak, but rebounded with a 93-82 win over the Promy on Sunday.
The KGC, which has yet to lose at home this season, will have a busy week as it squares off with the Sonicboom tonight, before meeting the Seoul Samsung Thunders on Thursday and the Knights on Saturday.
The league-worst Changwon LG Sakers, ended their six game losing streak on Saturday with a 79-78 win over the Knights. They will meet the Thunders and the Orions this weekend.
Chased by the Sakers, the Knights are looking to end their two-game losing streak this week. They face the Sonicboom on Thursday before meeting the KGC on Saturday.
Meanwhile, beginning Wednesday the teams will be allowed to play two foreign players at the same time on the court in the second and third quarter. Currently, teams can send two foreigners only in the third quarter.
Player in focus: Mario Little (Anyang KGC)
Fans call him “Super Mario” after the high-achieving video game character, and Little has lived up to it with his best performance in the KBL this season so far against the Wonju Dongbu Promy on Sunday.
Little had 27 points in just 17 minutes and led his team’s 93-82 victory at home. Most impressively, he was 7-for-9 in 3-pointers, making five in the third quarter to turn the tide for the KGC.
Little, a University of Kansas graduate, joined the KGC in August as a replacement of Frank Robinson who was forced out due to a knee injury. Little, the 1.9-meter guard, was introduced as a player with good shooting skills, but initially struggled. In his KBL debut against the Goyang Orion Orions on Sept. 12, he missed all seven three-pointers, and in his second game against the Jeonju KCC Egis, he was just 1-for-12 beyond the arc.
But Little has been improving gradually. The 27-year-old American, who has previously played in the Ukraine and Spain, averaged 23 points in the last five games, and Sunday’s game was his best yet.
Kim Joo-sung marches on in pursuit of all-time records
Wonju Dongbu Promy center Kim Joo-sung is in his 14th season as a professional player and the 35-year-old on his way to breaking all-time KBL records.
In Promy’s 77-75 win over Ulsan Mobis Phoebus on Wednesday, Kim had 10 points and became KBL’s third all-time leading scorer by amassing 9,351 points, surpassing Seoul SK Knight coach Moon Kyung-eun’s 9,347 points.
Currently, the KBL’s all-time scorer is retired center Seo Jang-hoon, who has 13,231 points, followed by Jeonju KCC Egis coach Choo Seung-kyun with 10,019 points.
Last week, Kim had 24 points in games against the Goyang Orion Orions and Anyang KGC, which put him 625 points under the 10,000 point milestone. Considering that there are 27 games left in this season, the two-time KBL MVP needs to average more than 23 points to achieve the feat within this season. But Kim is only averaging 12 points per game, meaning that he might have to hold on until next year.
Kim, who has three KBL titles with the Promy, said personally he wants to achieve 1,000 career blocks this season. He is currently just eight away from the feat, but his last block in the league was on Nov. 13 against Changwon LG Sakers - one of his only two blocks this season. Still, Kim is far and away the KBL’s all-time leader in blocks. Following him is Seo, who retired with 463 blocks.