Language is a hurdle for North-South basketball

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Language is a hurdle for North-South basketball

South Korean women’s basketball players said Tuesday that smooth communication with their North Korean teammates will be key to their success at the upcoming Asian Games, as they will compete under one flag.

South and North Korea will form a joint women’s basketball team at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. The two Koreas will also field unified teams in canoeing and rowing.

The Koreas had an opportunity to check their teamwork and players ahead of the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games when the two sides held a friendly basketball event in Pyongyang last week.

On the first day of the event, the South and the North combined to form two teams - “Team Peace” and “Team Prosperity” - and competed in front of Pyongyang spectators.

After playing with the North Koreans, Lim Yung-hui said the players need to improve their communication with each other and understand each other’s basketball jargon. South Korea uses English basketball terms, such as pass and rebound, but North Korea has its own Korean-language terms for each maneuver.

“Basketball is a sport in which communication between the players is really important,” South Korean women’s basketball team captain Lim Young-hee said during a media event at the National Training Center in Jincheon, North Chungcheong on Tuesday. “If North Koreans join the team, we’ll need some time to facilitate our communication on the court.”

According to the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC), the North will send three players and one official to form the unified women’s basketball team with the South.

“Through the friendly basketball event in Pyongyang, we now have an understanding of North Korean players,” the South’s women’s basketball team coach Ha Sook-rye said. “There are players who really have good skills. It will be a big help for us to build up our teamwork if we can have the North’s players join the team quickly.”

Ha, who also has experience playing with North Koreans in 1990, said the South’s staff is ready to make the joint team competitive at the Asian Games and win a medal.

“Our players might have better individual skills, but you have to combine players to make a team,” she said. “We’ll boost our teamwork and will try to defend our title from the Incheon Asian Games.”

The unified Korean women’s basketball team will face Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Indonesia and India in Group X at this year’s Asian Games.

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