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. Ra Gun-ah’s performance was one of them. Ra Gun-ah averaged 15 points, 13 rebounds, and two assists in the last three games and recorded 1.7 block shots. In particular, in the match against Korea Gas Corporation in Daegu on the 12th, he scored 21 points, 21 rebounds, 5 assists, and four block shots in 30 minutes and 42 seconds. He laid the starting point for the “first three consecutive wins of the season.”
Having grabbed three straight wins, KCC met with Hyundai Mobis. The team won the game this season. However, the team is not an easy target. Notably, Kege Prim (205 cm, C)`s dominance under the basket could put pressure on KCC.
That’s why Laganah has to show a good performance against Hyundai Mobis as well. KCC bench also expected Laganah’s performance. So I included Laganah in the starting lineup.
However, Ra Gun-ah’s performance was not as good as I thought. It failed to stop Prim’s attack under the basket at all, and failed to score a point against Prim’s defense. Ra Gun-ah had to be pulled back to the bench in 4 minutes and 13 seconds after the match. KCC also fell 2-10.
Alize Johnson took over, but Johnson was a bad defensive player. Even though Lee Seung-hyun defended together, KCC couldn’t stop Prim. The first quarter ended 15-26. Had to turn over a two-digit deficit in the remaining time.
Ra Gun-ah, who came out after taking a break, also recognized this. Instead of static one-on-one or second chances after offensive rebound, he responded to Prim with dynamic two-on-two and penetration under the basket. After the screen 4:54 before the end of the second quarter, he succeeded in counting the basket with penetration under the basket. It subdued Hyundai Mobis’ upward trend.
Also, when the gap between KCC and Hyundai Mobis widened, Ra Gun-ah jumped toward Hyundai Mobis Lim. With consecutive points following participation in the fastball, he caught Hyundai Mobis on the run. Thanks to this, KCC made a one-digit difference, 27-35 two minutes and 24 seconds before the end of the second quarter.
However, replacement Johnson couldn’t stop Prim at all. After a short break, Ra Gun-ah stepped onto the court. However, Ra Gun-ah, who lost her rhythm, failed to show her performance. KCC also shook sharply. Ending the first half 35-47. Had to gain more strength in the second half.
However, Ra Gun-ah’s hidden contribution was revealed in the first half. Ra Gun-ah played 12 minutes and 45 seconds in the first half. Johnson was able to save his stamina on the bench. He displayed speed and energy in the second half.
Johnson, who saved his strength, blocked the prim with Choi Jun-yong. And he targeted Hyundai Mobis’ defense with a different strategy than before. They created several options with a screen accompanied by hand-off or a screen that only hits the body.
In particular, the screen accompanied by hand-off made Lee Keun-hwi (187 cm, G) score three points. Lee Keun-hwi, who created opportunities by utilizing the screen, had three points and four in the third quarter alone. Thanks to this, KCC turned the tables 61-58. Ra Gun-ah, who was on the bench, rejoiced at the players’ performances in the third quarter with applause.
However, Johnson committed his fourth foul 5:49 before the game ended. Moreover, Choi Joon-yong and Song Kyo-chang were also caught in foul trouble. Ra Gun-ah had to think about substituting. So he focused on the game.
Fortunately, the rest of the players held out well. In particular, Johnson did. A decisive steal two seconds before the end of the game. Hyundai Mobis didn’t give the final crack of counterattack. KCC enjoyed the joy of victory, and Ra Gun-ah also left the court with a smile.