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KBL Playoff Media Day

Coaches and players from the KBL’s top teams who will be competing in the first round of playoff games over the next two weeks gathered together on Tueday to discuss their strategies and game plans for their upcoming matchups. The teams are Goyang Orion Orions, Anyang KGC, Seoul Samsung Thunders and Wonju Dongbu Promy.

Sixth seeded Promy head coach Kim Young-man and guard Heo Ung predicted that they will advance to the semi-final after the fourth game, taking the series by 3 to 1 against the Orions. In response, third seeded Orions challenged Promy, promising that the series will not go as far as game No.4, but Orions will advance to the semi-final with three consecutive wins. The winner of the series will go to the semi-final to play against second seeded Ulsan Mobis Phoebus.

Tensions were higher for the fourth seeded KGC and the fifth seeded Thunders. Their head coach Kim Seung-gi and Lee Sang-min were archrivals during their career as players. Meeting again in the playoff this year as skippers, they are determined to defeat their counterparts to advance to the semi-final. The KGC and coach Kim said they will shut down the Thunders offense. However, the Thunders and coach Lee are confident their offense will render the KGC defense ineffective. The winner of the series will play top seeded Jeonju KCC Egis in the semi-final.

Player in focus: Lee Seung-hyun (Goyang Orion Orions)

The award ceremony on Monday was a memorable event for Goyang Orion Orions Forward Lee Seung-hyun. Lee claimed three titles including Best Defender of the Year award, Top Five Defenders of the Season award and The Most Popular Player of the Year award. This means Lee excelled in the sport and popularity among fans.

Lee made his pro debut last season straight out of Korea University, where he led the school to grab two consecutive championship titles in the university league. Lee was drafted by the Orions in the first round and won the Rookie of the Year award.

More seasoned than his rookie year, Lee became a key player for the Orions. Standing at 1.97 meters (6 feet 5 inches), Lee boldly went under the basket to challenge foreign players. His tenacity inside the key proved to be an invaluable asset for the Orions. Lee averaged 11.20 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game this season. Despite his position as forward, Lee was also listed among top five rebounders of the season.

At the KBL playoff press conference on Tuesday, Lee demonstrated his confidence and promised to win the first three matches in the first round against Wonju Dongbu Promy to advance to the semi-final. “It was a disappointing result for us when we were dropped from the playoffs in the first round last season,” said Lee. “This year, we will go all the way to the final.” Orions is seeded third for the playoff. They will play their first playoff game on Feb. 26 against Promy at home.

Award Ceremony: Andre Emmett named Best Foreign Player

The award ceremony on Monday was a rollercoaster ride for many KBL players, including Yang Dong-geun and Chon Tae-poong. Although Yang won the honor, it was a close call as Yang claimed the award only by one vote difference.

However, for the Best Foreign Player Award, it was a completely different story. No one doubted that Andre Emmett would receive the award. Emmett averaged 25.72 points per game this season and was ranked second in the league for scoring. When looking at the final 12 games, in which Egis went on the longest winning-streak in the franchise history, Emmett averaged an astonishing 32.3 points.

Thus, instead of asking who will win the Best Foreign Player Award this season, KBL fans wondered by how many votes Emmett would claim the honor, some even forecasting that it will be a unanimous decision. The result was not unanimous after all, but Emmett earned 93 out of 99 total votes.
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