“You have to feel good when you win….”

Seoul SK won its fourth consecutive game with an 80-70 victory over Goyang Sono in the third round of the 2023-24 Korean Basketball Association at Goyang Sono Arena on Nov. 21.

SK opened the first quarter with a dominant 29-11 run, and it looked like they were going to get away with it, but a late rally by Sono left them cold. At one point, they led by as much as 28 points, but it was not easy, as they were down by as little as four points.

In the end, SK won thanks to Kim Sun-hyung and Ahn Young-joon. Despite winning their fourth straight game and moving into a tie for third place with Suwon KT, SK coach Jeon Hee-chul was not smiling.

After the game, Jeon said, “We keep winning, but I don’t feel very good. You should feel good when you win,” he said, adding, “The performance is too extreme. We finished the first half well, so there were some things I was expecting, but from the third quarter on, we didn’t do the little things: defense, rebounding, checking Sono’s three-pointers. It may be a small thing, but it looks big.”

However, the victory was not without its positives. “It’s true that our second-half performance was disappointing, but the positive thing is that we won, unlike in the first round. (Kim) Sun-hyung changed the atmosphere at a crucial moment. The players also showed that they wanted to play harder when they were being chased.”

In the 2022-23 season, SK was a team that could fall behind in the first half and come back in the second. This season, however, it’s a different story, and it’s not uncommon for a team to play well in the first quarter only to see the tide turn in the second or third. The good news is that since the second round, SK has been utilizing its backbone.

“There were times when we played well in the first half and then collapsed,” says Jeon, “but since the middle of the second round, we’ve been able to keep the score and win. They seem to be gaining strength now.”

“We need to reduce the ups and downs. There’s a big difference between good and bad. Right now, we’re playing a system where the sixth man goes first rather than the linemen and (O)segun. If (Jamil) Warney gets stuck, it can be frustrating. That’s the ups and downs that come with it, but it can get better over time.”

Obviously, SK’s performance is far from perfect. But their four-game winning streak shows that they have the strength to overcome. “There could be games like this in the future,” said Jeon. We have a tight schedule after the third round, so we’re going to make system changes within that. As a result, I think we have the strength to overcome.”

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