It had been getting on for three weeks since I had seen any sport with the ten days that I’d spent in the desert having caused all sorts of disruption to my plans. The annoying thing about it all was that there was very little work for me to do and whilst I was idling my days away in the middle of nowhere I could have been watching the back end of the Omani football fixtures, any number of camel racing meetings and Bradley Wiggins and his mates teararsing up and down the mountain passes in the Tour of Oman. Still, I’m back in Korea now and it’s only a few days until the football starts again.
In the meantime though it’s basketball and this week’s little treat was the mid-table clash between Seoul Samsung Thunders and Goyang Orions. Seoul are pretty crap and strike me as being flattered by their seventh position. Although I’m not sure if you can be flattered by being fourth bottom. Goyang are doing a bit better in fifth place, but if they do manage to reach the play-offs it’s hard to imagine them prolonging their season by very long.
Jen and I took the subway to Sports Complex, picked up some chestnuts from an old biddy outside of the station and then made our way across to the Jamsil Gymnasium.
We bought a couple of eight thousand won tickets for seats that were quite low down and between the baskets on the bench side of the court. There were probably only around five or six hundred people in the thirteen thousand capacity arena but unfortunately almost all of them seemed to be sat where we were.
There were a couple of women behind us who screamed non-stop in the way that you might expect them to do at a Justin Bieber or Gaslight Anthem gig. At one point I was worried that someone must have been trying to steal their handbags. We stuck it out for the first quarter and then switched to the quieter and near empty seating on the opposite side. By this time Goyang had opened up a bit of a lead and were comfortably in control.
Leon Williams was the star man for the visitors. He only missed about thirty seconds of the game and scored thirty points. It’s difficult to say much about his team mate Scott Merritt as he was only on court for around half a minute towards the end of the second quarter. I can report that he was tall, if that’s any help.
As for the home side, Darian Townes went a step further and played the entire forty minutes, notching twenty six points. I’m not sure what happened to the other American fella, Odartey Blanksan, although with a name like that perhaps he’d been kidnapped by the Vogons.
Instead of the usual half-time nonsense involving children from the crowd, we had a wheelchair basketball game. I was quite impressed. The players put enough effort in to result in a couple of them being tipped out of their chairs head first whilst some of the lay-ups had an element of showboating that deserved a bigger crowd.
I’d watched the wheelchair rugby in the Paralympics last summer but felt that it didn’t live up to its hype. For a start, they can pass the ball forward and there’s no offside. That’s not rugby. Also, each team seemed to have a goalscrounger whose job was just to wait for a long pass and then wheel themselves over the line with it. Wheelchair basketball seems a lot more skillful, not least because you’ve got to get the ball through the hoop.
Maybe all the screaming from the home fans did some good as Seoul got back into the game in the second half. With a couple of minutes left they had established a six point lead and Goyang felt the need to try for three pointers each attack. They invariably missed the shot and with five team fouls to Goyang’s name, all Seoul had to do was keep drawing the foul and nip up the other end for the free-throws.
A couple of late baskets made it look closer than it really was, but Seoul fully deserved their 73-69 victory. The win moved the Thunders up into sixth place and the play-offs with Goyang remaining one place ahead in fifth.