Busan KCC lost 95-101 to Changwon LG in the 2023

2024 Jeonggwanjang Professional Basketball League held at Sajik Indoor Stadium in Busan on the 19th. It remained in fifth place with 16 wins and 14 losses, but fell three games behind fourth-place LG (20 wins and 12 losses).

KCC was considered a favorite to win the title in the 2023-2024 season. Choi Joon-yong (200 cm, F), a free agent resource, and Song Kyo-chang (199 cm, F), a former discharged player, were added to the list of Hur Woong (185 cm, G) and Lee Seung-hyun (197 cm, F). Alize Johnson, the MVP of the cup, also had high expectations.

KCC’s early moves, however, were not good. Choi Jun-yong left the cup final due to an injury, and Johnson was caught in the opponent’s defense. And Song Kyo-chang joined the team later than expected due to a posterior cruciate ligament injury.

Another reason for KCC’s poor performance was Ra Gun-ah’s performance. As Ra Gun-ah rarely came up, KCC had no choice but to use Johnson for a long time. For that reason, KCC’s competitiveness under the basket gradually declined.

However, KCC has won five of their six matches in December. After struggling in the bottom half, KCC recovered its winning percentage to 50 percent. If they catch the upcoming matches, they can leap to the top.

There were many reasons. Awakened Ra Gun-ah was one of them. Ra Gun-ah averaged 18.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 14 games after the third round. He left an outstanding record compared to playing time.

Ra Gun-ah, who is on an upswing, met with LG. Ra Gun-ah was likely to show more prominent performance. Asem Maray (202 cm, C), a foreign player with LG’s first option, was absent.

However, Laganah rarely scored. Because of Juan Tello (203 cm, F)’s aggressive defense, he couldn’t dig into the paint zone. Laganah was blocked from certain options, so KCC fell to 7-15 within 4 minutes and 32 seconds of the game.

However, both KCC and Ra Gun-ah changed after the timeout. Ra Gun-ah targeted Telo with his 2-2 penetration under the basket and participation in swift attack. With his talent, he scored easily near the rim. The gap between KCC and LG converged to 0 (18-18).

When LG Twins called Telo to the bench, KCC replaced Laganah. They replaced Alize Johnson (201 cm, F). Johnson pushed Park Chung-hyun through breaking through based on his strength and rebounding from attack using his height. He pushed up KCC, which had been losing 28-34, to 32-34.

KCC did not lead LG, but Johnson showed some performance. He scored three head-to-head points 5 minutes and 20 seconds before the end of the third quarter. He put pressure on Telo to defend and also induced LG’s first timeout.

However, Johnson’s sense of security was less than that of Ra Gun-ah. In particular, the holding defense did. This forced KCC’s domestic forwards to block Telo. So, KCC had to defend assist and rotation, and KCC’s defense had to brace for some cracks.

The cracks in defense also contributed to a drop in competitiveness in boxouts. The same happened in defense at the end of the second quarter. “Tello was allowed to score a goal.” KCC had to narrow the gap, but ended the first half 45-54.

Ra Gun-ah came back to the court in the third quarter. However, the team failed to respond to LG’s 2-2 attack with Telo as a screener. After exposing a loophole in the 2-2 defense, KCC fell to a two-digit gap (45-57) just 40 seconds after the start of the third quarter.

Ra Gun-ah responded by attacking the paint zone and fighting. Although there were no direct results, Ra Gun-ah’s strategy was successful. He led Telo’s fourth foul in 3:34 into the third quarter.

Ra Gun-ah pulled Park Jung-hyun, who had three fouls, to the court. Back down to Park Jung-hyun. With 5:16 left before the end of the third quarter, he led Park Chung-hyun to foul trouble. He also induced free throws by fouling. He pushed up KCC, which had been trailing 51-64, to 56-64.

Ra Gun-ah was aware of the LG big men’s situation. So she dug into the rim more actively. Nevertheless, the gap between KCC and LG rarely narrowed. 68-76. It was the last quarter by not a small margin.

Unable to close the gap, KCC fell to 68-81 just one minute after the start of the fourth quarter. Ra Gun-ah also turned over to LG’s cooperative defense. He was pulled back to the bench just one minute and 30 seconds after the start of the fourth quarter.

Johnson dug into the paint zone instead of Ra Gun-ah. He also actively participated in the fast attack. However, Johnson’s under-the-basket-shot score did not destroy the LG rim. KCC also fell to 76-86 five and a half minutes before the game ended.

Heo Woong made the chase flow instead of Ra Gun-ah and Johnson. In particular, 4 minutes and 21 seconds before the end of the game, he succeeded in the layup and induced Tello’s fifth foul and LG’s bench technical foul. He narrowed the gap between KCC and LG to ‘6’ (82-88).

Johnson displayed his tenacity to the end. However, the results of KCC and LG did not change. KCC lost. Ra Gun-ah had to watch his loss from the bench. Ra Gun-ah’s record against LG was 17 points, three rebounds, and one block shot at 18:43.

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