Samsung Thunders v KCC Egis, Saturday 26th February 2011, 3pm

It’s getting towards the start of the football season again with just a week to go until the first round of K-League fixtures. I’d been hoping for a pre-season friendly this weekend but unfortunately didn’t notice one listed anywhere.

Samsung Thunders were at home though and so I thought I might as well watch some basketball. Jamsil gymnasium is about three quarters of an hours walk from my apartment and with the weather having got a bit milder recently I had a wander along.

It was fairly busy outside with a long queue at the ticket office. I saw an old granny tout being moved on by a policeman before finding an even older one who was clutching on to a handful of tickets as if they were Embassy cigarette coupons. I suspect that reference ages me, but when I was a kid one of my Nannas always had a stack of them. She often seemed to have something new in the house, a china dog or a set of drinks coasters, and all of it seemed to have either been won at the bingo or bought with Embassy coupons.

Granny touts outside of the Jamsil Gymnasium

The granny tout and I didn‘t manage the communication very well. Establishing that I wanted one ticket was straightforward enough, but determining the price seemed beyond us. In the end I just opened my wallet and let her pluck one thousand won notes from it until she was happy. I ended up paying 6,000 won for a ticket that had a face value of 3,500 but I wasn’t going to argue with that, particularly as the ticket office queue didn’t seem to be getting any shorter.

I think my ticket was for the second tier, but I decided that I’d watch from a bit higher up where there were plenty of empty seats. I found a spot along the side of the court, close to one of the big screens. The temperature was roasting. It was like being inside a sauna. There rarely seems to be any middle ground in these places, it’s either far too hot or far too cold. Mind you, most of the Koreans around me had kept their coats on. I don‘t know how they managed.

View from the upper tier.

 Both the first two quarters were fairly tight, Samsung edging the first 28-25 and then increasing their lead to 51-43 by the half time interval. The main point of interest was the KCC Egis centre Ha Seung Jin who, depending on your source of information, is either 7’3“ or 7’4“. I don‘t suppose that extra inch makes a lot of difference as to how often he cracks his head when going through a door.

He's the one wearing '0'

Mr. Ha has played in the NBA for Portland and even if he ’only’ measures 7’3“ he is still one of  the tallest twenty players ever to play in the NBA. He is also the only Korean to have played at that level too, which I suspect will make him a bit of a superstar in his home country. He towered over the diminutive Thunders centre, Nigel Dixon, who at a mere 6’9“ could be described as a relative shortarse.

Big Jin v Big Jelly

At half time we had a bit of music with some miming and dancing from a woman who looked older than the granny who had sold me my ticket. It is rare for any Korean women under the age of eighty to have grey hair, so she was either exceptionally daring in doing without the hair dye or was extremely agile for her age. Maybe a bit of both.

Zimmer Frame just out of shot.

Samsung edged the third quarter as well to increase their lead to 77-66. The attendence was announced at 9,700 which seemed about right, with the hall being two-thirds full.

And we'll finish with 'One for the boys'.

The final quarter followed the pattern of the previous three with Samsung outscoring KCC by another three points to run out the winners by 100-86. Whilst the final score was convincing, each quarter had been close and there hadn’t really been a spell where the game had felt one-sided. I enjoyed the battle between Ha Seung Jin and the not-so ’Big Jelly’ and it would be nice to see a repeat in the play-offs.

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