“It felt really good to step on the court after a long time. It was a moment I’ve been waiting for, and I was excited not only to play, but also the whole situation before and after the game. I can’t give it away, but I want to make it meaningful just by playing an official game.”
Park Se-jin (30‧201cm), who joined the 홀덤사이트 Kanazawa Samurai of the B3.League, played his first official game in the Nippon League against the Tokushima Kanbarrows. The 99th Emperor’s Cup was held at the Shikacho General Gymnasium on Nov. 22. The Cup is a tournament that features teams from the first, second, and third divisions of the B League, as well as universities and unemployed teams.
As such, it’s a great way to gain experience and hope for an upset in a relatively low-level league. Unfortunately, Park’s team, Kanazawa, was eliminated after losing 73-98 to fellow third division team Tokushima. Park got the start and played 12 minutes and 37 seconds, finishing with 13 points and four rebounds. It was significant because it was his first official game since being discharged from the military, including his stint with KCC the previous week.
Park scored his first points on a reverse layup after receiving a pass from the corner and dribbling to the basket. As a player whose strength is physicality from the previous week, he collided with the opposing big man but was not pushed back at all. From there, he added points in a variety of ways, including layups off pick-and-rolls, baseline cut-ins, and free throws.
His three-point shooting was particularly impressive. In this game, Park hit one three-pointer (on two attempts) from the top. Many Korean fans were surprised by this. It’s just a three-pointer, but there’s a big reason why Park made it. When he was playing in Korea, Park was considered to have no three-point shot at all. This is one of the reasons why he couldn’t even play garbage time.
However, Park has a point. It’s true that his shooting range is short and he’s not as good as a stretch big man at three-point shooting. However, Park has consistently made up for his shortcomings. He hasn’t played a single official first-team game since his discharge from the army, so he hasn’t had a chance to prove himself. The Cheonhwangbae Cup was his first official game, both domestic and international, after completing his military service.
“Usually, B-League teams use practice games as a preseason, but we played the Cheonhwangbae Cup as our first official game as a preseason. If we had won today’s game, we could have played the next game with the first team, so I feel a little disappointed. I didn’t feel like I was struggling too much because I had been working on my physical fitness, and I was one of the three black players on the opposing team, so I felt it was worth it.”
Park Se-jin, who exceeded expectations in his first game, said, “It was a day that made me realize once again that a player must be on the court. I still have a lot of things to work on, but I will think about the results later and play my best every game without regret.” The Busan Bulldozers’ basketball life is starting over in Japan.