Wonju Dongbu Promy v Ulsan Mobis Phoebus, Saturday 12th January 2013, 4pm

wonju fans

My first post of a new year traditionally tends to be padded out with all that ‘what I did on my holidays’ stuff. It’s mercifully brief this time though as whilst Jen and I spent a couple of weeks in the UK, nothing much went on. I saw the Boro win a couple of home games and spent some time with my parents, kids and grandkids, but my over-riding memory of the fortnight is pretty much the almost non-stop rain.

We had one day where it didn’t rain quite as much as the others and fortunately it was during the New Year trip to Fort William. The brief respite enabled us to walk fifteen miles along the West Highland Way and from what I saw of that most northerly section between Fort William and Kinlochleven, I’d certainly like to go back and do the rest of the route.

West Highland Way.

West Highland Way.

So, back to Korea and as it’s winter that means that it’s pretty much just the basketball going on. I’ve been applying the same groundhopper mentality to the KBL as I have to everything else and the trip to Wonju enabled me to tick off a home fixture for the eighth of the ten teams.

Jen and I caught a bus from the Express Bus Terminal. It was one of the ‘luxury’ ones with the big seats and cost ten thousand won for the one hour, forty minute journey. It looked as if they ran every half hour or so. We checked into a hotel straight across from Wonju Bus Terminal with rooms at fifty, sixty and seventy thousand won. We took one of the higher priced ones and were rewarded with the sort of ornate furniture that a seven year old girl might dream of having if she gets to marry a prince. We also had a vending machine full of ‘marital aids’ on our corridor floor.

It's fancier inside.

It’s fancier inside.

I had no idea where the 3,100 capacity Chiak Gymnasium was so we hopped in a taxi. The driver seemed happy enough despite needing to make an immediate U-turn and then only having to drive three or four hundred yards to get us there. I’ve got my doubts that we would get such a similar attitude from a Seoul cabbie.

There was a small queue for tickets. It took a while though due to everyone in front of us arseing on by not deciding where they wanted to sit until they reached the counter, or by changing their order after being given their tickets. I really do need to start getting my tickets from the cash machines if I want to keep my blood pressure down.

It was as if they didn't know what they were queueing for.

It was as if they didn’t know what they were queueing for.

Apparently they had three types of tickets, Royal, Special and Regular. I should have realised that in such a small arena then you would get a decent view from the back row, but being a bit of a Billy big bollocks I asked for two Royal seats. What I got back were two Special ones. Fair enough, perhaps the Royal ones were sold out.

Our Special seats turned out to be anything but. For a start they weren’t even next to each other, instead they were one behind the other. They were also right behind the basket. I could bleat on more but it’s probably easier to just show you the photo.

Crap view.

Crap view.

It brought back memories of a football match I went to in Portugal where I had managed to pick up a ticket to a sold-out game from a tout. It had a face value of nil, which I’d assumed meant that it was a complimentary ticket, perhaps issued to a player or sponsor. When I took my seat in the front row I concluded that the reason for it being free was that I had to look through three separate fences to try to see the goal that was only a few yards away from me.

Again, I’ll let the photo tell the story.

Another crap view.

Another crap view.

Back to the basketball. Visitors Ulsan went into the game in second place, whilst Wonju were second bottom of the ten team table. I was surprised to see that the handicap betting only gave Wonju a 3.5 point start and so I backed the visitors. They quickly went into a six point lead and I don’t think it ever fell below that all game.

As far as the foreign players got on, Ricardo Ratliffe top scored for Ulsan with eighteen points, whilst his team-mate and fellow American Curtis Withers got ten minutes on the court and accumulated eight points mainly through some nifty little tip-ins from rebounds.

Richard Roby and Julian Sensley pretty much shared the game time equally for Wonju with Roby being the more successful in terms of his contribution.

Julian Sensley and Ricardo Ratliffe.

Julian Sensley and Ricardo Ratliffe.

Former Harlem Globetrotter ‘Shanghai’ was probably Wonju’s best player and never far from the ball when his team had it. It’s his first season with Wonju and he must be wondering what has gone wrong with the team that finished top of last year’s standings. He was on court for almost the entire game but couldn’t bridge the gap in class between the teams by himself.

Shanghai takes a rebound.

Shanghai takes a rebound.

By the time we reached the end Ulsan had extended their lead to fifteen points, running out 78-63 winners. The away win kept the pressure on leaders SK Knights at the top end of the table whilst Wonju remained in ninth position.

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