Professional basketball team Suwon KT has clinched third place in the regular season. “It doesn’t feel real yet,” said head coach Song Young-jin, who is heading to the playoffs (PO) in his first season in charge. I think it will only be realized when we become POs,” he said, laughing.

The team defeated Seoul SK 99-80 in an away game of the 2023-24 Korean Professional Basketball League regular season at Jamsil Student Gymnasium in Seoul on Friday. KT took control of the game in the first quarter and led by as many as 28 points at one point. The result was a 19-point away victory.

With the win, KT clinched third place in the regular season regardless of the outcome of the remaining two regular season games. With 33 wins and 19 losses, they are now three games behind fourth-place SK. With its recent two-game winning streak, the team can now look to continue its momentum in the PO as it clinched third place in the regular season.

“I’m very happy to finish third after all the twists and turns,” said Song. The players played so hard. Our shots were going in,” said Song, “and (Paris) Bass did a great job in terms of content. I think that’s one of the reasons we’re doing so well.”

Bass finished with 41 points, including seven 3-pointers (64 percent), to go along with 13 rebounds, six assists and four steals. He scored in double figures in every quarter except the third quarter (7 points), leading KT to victory. Heo Hoon added 23 points, including three three-pointers, and Ha Yoon-ki chipped in with 10 rebounds.

Especially on this day, KT saw quite a bit of court time from Ha Yoon-ki (33:45), Moon Sung-gon (33:12), and Heo Hoon (28:57), even though Bass played 35 minutes and 30 seconds. “I didn’t tell the players much about today’s game because I didn’t want to put any pressure on them, but this game was very important. I wanted them to play as long as possible, and they were playing well,” he said.

Now, the next goal is the PO. “Every game has been important,” Song said. We didn’t prepare for the POs ahead of time, but rather focused on each game. Now that it has been decided, we will have to prepare for the physical fitness of the players and tactical aspects little by little,” he explained.

“We play all the teams six times. We’re in a position where the mood is down and then up again, so we have to keep the mood alive and go (to the PO). Players like Ha Yoon-ki, Bass, and Jung Sung-woo 토토 have played so many hours and helped the team. I think they need to adjust their time a little bit.”

“However, Heo Hoon has been resting a lot (due to injury). I think he still needs to feel the game. I think he should play a little bit, if not full-time, but we’ll have to discuss it with the coaches. Now that third place is confirmed, I haven’t made any conclusions yet,” he added.

When asked about her first PO since taking over as coach, she said, “I don’t feel it yet. I think it won’t be realized until I actually become a PO,” he said, but added, “In any case, the players’ hard work paid off. I’m very grateful.” In the professional basketball PO, No. 1 Wonju DB and No. 2 Changwon LG advanced directly to the quarterfinals, while No. 3 KT will play the sixth-place team in the regular season for the sixth-place PO.

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