Goyang Orions v KCC Egis, Sunday 15th January 2012, 3pm

I’d spotted a few banners advertising Goyang Orions the last time I’d been to a football match up there. It confused me a little as I thought that the Orions played in Daegu. Still, a team moving between cities isn’t that uncommon in basketball and so I shouldn’t really have been surprised.

One benefit is that Goyang is a bit closer than Daegu and I was able to take Line Three all the way to it’s final stop, Daewha. It’s the same subway that you go to if you want to watch Goyang KB and the basketball arena is just next to the football stadium, about a hundred yards straight along from exit three.

They probably didn't move this from Daegu.

I had time before the game to have a wander around the football stadium next door. The goalposts were down and the pitch was covered in sheeting to protect it from frost. The running track was available for people to use and a couple of people were clocking up the laps.

They get similar crowds for their matches.

I still had three-quarters of an hour before the basketball started but it was quite chilly so I went in early. It’s a small arena with three tiers. I tried for a courtside seat but apparently they were sold out. I ended up with an eight thousand won ‘free-seating’ ticket which appeared to allow me to sit wherever I fancied in tiers two and three. It didn’t, of course, and a couple of minutes before the game started someone turned up with a ticket for my seat in the middle of the second tier. I had to move upwards to tier three and look down from a distance at all of the empty seats next to the court.

I hadn’t seen Goyang before and so wasn’t familiar with any of the players. Their foreigner is an American forward called Chris Williams. I looked him up afterwards and he seems to have had quite a successful career around the world including spells in Germany, Australia, China and Iran. It’s probably as well that he’s moved on from Tehran as I don’t expect that an American would get too many MVP awards over there these days.

Chris Williams is the one in red.

Goyang also had one of those blokes that qualify to play as a ‘half-Korean’, Daniel Sandrin. He’s the kid brother of the Samsung Thunders player Eric Sandrin who used to play for the Harlem Globetrotters under the nickname ‘Shanghai’’. Baby Shanghai didn’t get much of a run-out though and spent all but seven minutes watching from the bench.

KCC Egis were a bit more of a known quantity. Jen and I had watched them before Christmas in Jeonju and I recognised their American forward, DeShawn Sims. KCC’s half-Korean was guard Tony Atkins. Last time we’d watched him he managed to get ejected from the game for being arsey to one of the refs. This time though he behaved himself.

The real stand-out character for KCC  was 7’3“ centre Ha Seung Jin. He’d made a few appearances in the NBA in the past, once scoring thirteen points in a game for Portland against the LA Lakers. I found it hard to imagine that he could have played at that level unless he was a lot more mobile in those days. In this game he looked more like an out of shape Dad playing with a bunch of ten year olds. He didn’t bother going up for every attack and rarely seemed to pick up a rebound. Despite his height advantage over everyone else he didn’t contest the tip-off at the start either. All he did was stand near the opposition basket and wait for a pass to be looped over the defending players heads. If he managed not to fumble it then it was a fairly guaranteed two points.

He nearly got that rebound.

The first quarter was just about even but in the second quarter KCC left Tony Atkins and Ha Seung Jin on the bench for the first few minutes. Goyang took full advantage and led by sixteen points at one stage before eventually finishing the period 41-33 ahead.

The third quarter belonged overwhelmingly to KCC and they turned the deficit around to take a 62-56 lead. It was Goyang’s turn for a fightback in the final quarter and they eventually regained the lead by a single point with just two and a half minutes remaining. They increased that to three points going into the final minute. Tony Atkins missed a three pointer for KCC and after the subsequent foul Goyang scored a free-throw to extend their lead to four points. That was the way it stayed and Goyang took a 84-81 victory.

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