Weekly reviewThe Phoebus are now No. 1; KGC finally defeated at home
The biggest matchup last week was the game between the Ulsan Mobis Phoebus and Goyang Orion Orions, who were sharing the No. 1 standing in the league.
Although a tight game was expected, it turned out to be an easy win for the Phoebus as they crushed the Orions 78-59 in front of home fans on Friday and claimed the top position in the league for the first time this season.
The Orions have been struggling since forward Aaron Haynes was sidelined due to an injury. The team tried to play the 34-year-old American forward last week, but an examination showed he won’t be back until Christmas Day at the earliest.
Taking the top position, the defending champion Phoebus on Sunday beat the Wonju Dongbu Promy 83-76 to cement their lead, while the Orions fell again with a 75-74 loss against the Changwon LG Sakers on the same day.
The Phoebus will meet the Seoul Samsung Thunders this Thursday and Sakers on Saturday, while the Orions face No. 3 Anyang KGC on Friday before hosting the Busan KT Sonicboom.
The KGC are also not in a good rhythm as they are on a two-game losing streak. The team ended their 15-game winning streak at home after a 96-93 loss against the SK Knights on Saturday.
The Jeonju Egis lost their No. 4 spot to the Thunders last week after losing the last three games. The good news for the team is that all of their three games this week are at home.
Two Seoul rivals will open this week’s KBL game, as the Knights and Thunders clash at 7 p.m. tonight. Both teams have won the last two games.
It will be a critical week for the Sonicboom, who are on a four-game losing streak. The bad news for the team is that all three of their games this week will be played away. The Sonicboom meet the Promy on Wednesday, followed by the Egis and Orions on the weekend.
It will also be interesting to watch how the Elephants will perform. The team has won the last two games after their former captain, Ricardo Powell, joined through a trade.
Player in focus: Ricardo Powell (ET Land Elephants)
“Captain Po” is back with his familiar uniform.
On Friday, the Incheon ET Land Elephants and Jeonju KCC Egis announced they are trading Ricardo Powell and Herbert Hill. For Powell, it means a reunion with his former team.
Powell made his KBL debut with the Elephants in 2008. After playing in China, Iran and Israel, Powell returned to the KBL in 2012, again with the Elephants. Since then, the 32-year-old American has been one of the most beloved players for the Elephants. Last season, he averaged 18.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists as a captain, while helping the team make the playoffs for three straight seasons.
But because of the new foreign player draft system this season, Powell was forced to leave the Elephants and was ultimately picked up by the Egis.
With the Elephants uniform, Powell is becoming “Captain Po” again. In his first game with the Elephants on Saturday, he scored 31 points and got 11 rebounds against the Busan KT Sonicboom. On Sunday against his now former club the Egis, Powell struck 20 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and delivered five assists to lead the Elephants to an 85-83 victory.
Phoebus coach Yoo fined W3M for hitting his player
The Ulsan Mobis Phoebus’ Yoo Jae-hak is regarded as the top coach in the KBL. The 52-year-old has five KBL championship rings and is the first coach to collect 500 wins in the league.
Yoo, also a four-time KBL Coach of the Year, has been leading the defending champions Phoebus since 2004.
However, the KBL on Thursday slapped Yoo with a 3 million won ($2,500) fine after he was caught hitting his player Kim Soo-chan on the forehead with his knuckles during a time out in a game against the Busan KT Sonicboom on Dec. 5. Yoo apparently didn’t like Kim making some frequent mistakes during the game.
Yoo was also involved in controversy last year after wrapping tape around his player’s mouth during a time out.
The KBL said that it had to punish Yoo because his behavior was unacceptable as a professional coach. Yoo and the Phoebus later apologized for the behavior.
Meanwhile, the KBL also punished Changwon LG Sakers forward Troy Gillenwater with a 3 million won fine after he ridiculed a referee during a game against the Seoul SK Knights on Dec. 5.
Displeased with a call from the referee, the 26-year-old American, who is now the league’s top scorer, showed a gesture of counting money in front the referee, suggesting that he had been bribed.