KCC Egis v Samsung Thunders, Sunday 6th November 2011, 3pm

The final sporting event of our weekend in Jeonju was a basketball game between KCC Egis and Samsung Thunders. We called in at the Jeonju Arena around lunchtime to buy our tickets, ending up with two behind the basket at 14,000 won each, two rows from the front. The floor seats down the side of the court were already sold out by that time, as were the seats in the next section up. It’s a small arena though so it wouldn’t really have mattered if we had ended up in the back row.

Jeonju Arena

I’d seen Samsung Thunders earlier in the season and it was their Puerto Rican centre, Peter John Ramos, who stood out for them. Not so much for his contribution to the game, but more for his resemblance to the former boxer, Nikolai Valuev. If there is a ‘pairs’ event in that rhythmic gymnastics stuff where they dance with a ribbon, I’d love to see the two of them team up.

It seems I wasnt the only one to be questioning the contribution that Ramos had been making as shortly after the game it was reported that he was going to be released and replaced by somebody more mobile. I was slightly surprised to read that the more mobile replacement, Joe Ira Clark, is actually ten years older than Ramos.

"If we lose this game, you're flying home in Economy"

The overseas player for KCC was a lot more impressive. Deshawn Sims, a twenty-three year old American forward, seemed more than capable of getting up and down the court. I wonder how long he will last in Korea though as KCC is his sixth team in the last year and a half.

Deshawn Sims

The home side are the reigning KBL champions and they looked to be the stronger side, leading 26-18 at the end of the first quarter and maintaining their advantage to finish the first half seven points ahead. I had to go outside at the interval as it was just too hot inside the arena. Nobody was checking tickets on the way back in so if you ever fancy watching half a game of free basketball then Jeonju is the place to do it.

In addition to the one overseas player that each team is allowed, there is also a draft for half-Koreans, players with one Korean and one non-Korean parent. Both these teams had taken up their option with Samsung’s Lee Seung Joon looking like the best player on the court. Lee had briefly played in the NBA before becoming a naturalised Korean. In those days he was known as Eric Sandrin, or at least he was for most of the time. He had a spell with the Harlem Globetrotters in 2005 where in addition to being taught how to spin a ball on his finger whilst fastening his shoelaces, he also learned to answer to the name of  ‘Shanghai’.

Shanghai turns back the clock to his Globetrotter days.

After the break KCC were able to edge further ahead and they began the fourth quarter with the score at 68-57. The final stages saw Ramos spend some time on the bench. It’s unusual for a foreigner not to play the full match, but with the game drifting away it’s possible that Samsung wanted to give a bit of game-time to someone who would still be around the following week. Deshawn Sims ended up on the sidelines too, although in his case it was as a consequence of being fouled-out with a couple of minutes to go.

Chon Tae Poong also left the game early. He had got away with a deliberate charging foul and then trying to start a fight, but kept pushing it and was finally ejected after a comment to one of the referees. He’s another of the naturalised Koreans who got his spot via the ‘half-Korean’ draft and when he played in the US he was known as Tony Atkins. He’s a good point guard, but a bit too ‘Hollywood’ for me, looking in one direction and then passing in another far too often for it to ever fool the defence. I bet he’d have loved to have played for the Harlem Globetrotters, although whether he’d have been happy with a likely Globetotter name of ‘Stroppy Get’, I’m not so sure.

Stroppy Get departs for the dressing room.

The late drama didn’t affect the result though and KCC Egis ran out the clock for an 88-74 victory.

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