Jeon Hee-chul’s encouragement to the silent Ahn Young-joon: “An opportunity to grow further”

SK continues its winning streak.

The Seoul SK Knights defeated the Busan KCC Aegis 77-74 in the 2023-2024 Korean Basketball Association regular season on Wednesday at Busan Sajik Gymnasium.

The win was SK’s ninth consecutive victory. They overcame a late comeback by KCC. SK 스포츠토토 has won seven straight away from home.

Head coach Jeon Hee-chul said, “We got off to a good start in the first half. We are last among the 10 clubs in third-quarter scoring. After halftime, I said, ‘Let’s try to play better in the third quarter,’ but they scored a lot of goals right at the start of the third quarter and used up two possessions, but other than that, we played well enough to be satisfied. We said we wanted to stop them from playing well, but the third quarter was the problem. We had a lot of turnovers in the third quarter that shouldn’t have happened. We kept getting counterattacked and had some lapses of concentration, but other than that, the guys did a good job. They know how to win in close games. I think they’re getting the point,” he reflected.

“The seven-game winning streak away from home is because of the players. I didn’t do anything. If we win, the players are doing well, and if we lose, it’s the coach’s fault.”

It is unfortunate that the spacing is getting weaker with the absence of Heo Il-young, but SK is still doing well.

“When Heo Il-young comes back, our three-point shooting will be solved to some extent. But even if the shooting improves, the defense and pressure up front might drop a bit. We need her in switch defense. Today, we played a switch defense with two guards pressing, and I’m a little frustrated with that. If Ahn Young-joon doesn’t get going, we’re going to be frustrated from the outside. But there are a lot of games where players don’t make 3-pointers, so if they don’t make them, we have to do a good job of stopping them.(Laughs) Even if we don’t make them, we told them not to give up too many points, and they did a good job of that. I don’t know when we’re going to get eight or nine threes,” he laughed.

SK took the lead early in the fourth quarter, but Oh Jae-hyun’s hustle play turned the tide and eventually allowed them to regain the lead.

“It was so hard at that time, we had already used up two timeouts, so it was hard to call another one, but we got a steal there and Warney dunked, and we handled the situation really well. We had a little bit of luck and nowadays, when you look at the game in general, it’s weird. There are a lot of things that went well, but there are also a lot of things that didn’t go well. We need to be consistent and we need to work on the third quarter because we’re not playing as well as we should be, but I think the players are learning and we need to work on our focus. There might be some pressure on the streak, but I’m grateful that the players kept it going. I don’t know if they want to commit turnovers, but they did it in the third quarter like they were stuck, and it’s partly because I didn’t give them a good idea of how to release. I told them to take it easy, but it was still a bad start to the third quarter.”

Regarding Ahn Young-joon (3 points), who struggled on offense, he said, “He had a bad expression on his face when the offense wasn’t working, and he was feeling sorry for the team, but that’s the opposite of that, they’re playing tight defense because they think you’re the main scorer, and you have to overcome that. It’s my job to give him options to create shots. When he’s not shooting well, he tends to dribble a lot, so I have to be aware of that and make sure he’s having fun and not getting annoyed. It’s not a slump, but it will be hard because the defense will be tight to prevent Il-Young from shooting. The defense is also playing hard, so my shooting might be a little shaky, but I’ll get through it. When you face something like this, it can be an opportunity to grow. If you’re frustrated because you’re not playing well, you have to talk about it because it’s a negative for the team.”

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