“No matter how prepared I am, I just have to make sure I do well.”
South Korea’s men’s national basketball team ace Heo Hoon is ready for the 스포츠토토Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games.
South Korea, led by head coach Chu Il-seung, arrived in Hangzhou via Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport on Wednesday afternoon.
South Korea, who are in Group D in men’s basketball at the Asian Games, will open their campaign against Indonesia on Saturday. They will then face off against Qatar (28th) and Japan (30th) to advance in the tournament.
In men’s basketball, three of the four teams in each group will advance to the round of 12. The group winner will earn a direct ticket to the quarterfinals, while the second- and third-place finishers will need to advance through the round of 12 to join the quarterfinals.
South Korea will be looking to win their first title at the Hangzhou Asian Games in nine years, having last competed in Incheon 2014.
Heo Hoon, who won a bronze medal at the last Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang 2018, is also hungry for a win. Speaking to the media after arriving in Hangzhou, he joked, “It was hard to get to Hangzhou from the morning,” before adding, “The athletes have prepared well. They are very motivated to make a good result, and the younger ones are also full of fighting spirit. We will do our best to achieve a good result.”
It’s a definite plus for South Korea that their rivals have struggled to select players due to injuries. China, the hosts and top favorites, will be without the likes of Wang Jialin and Zhou Qi, while Japan and Iran are also not at full strength.
However, this was also the case for South Korea, as Moon Sung-gon and Song Kyo-chang were withdrawn due to ankle and knee injuries, respectively, and were replaced by Yang Hong-seok and Byun Jun-hyung.
“Honestly, I didn’t have much time to work with (the players). There were a lot of injuries. We didn’t have much time to work out at full strength,” Heo said, adding, “We barely practiced 5-on-5. There were a lot of players who were sick, so I haven’t practiced with them for a few days,” he said with a bitter smile.
But that didn’t dampen his confidence. “We have to play games and competitions,” Heo said. “We tried to stick together and work out in a positive mood,” he said. “We all had one goal in mind (winning the championship). Regardless of the preparation, we have to do our best to produce good results.”
South Korea’s men’s volleyball team, led by Lim Do-heon, was doomed to medal failure even before the official opening ceremony. Shock losses to India and Pakistan sent them into the 7th-12th place match. After winning 14 consecutive medals from Bangkok 1966 to Jakarta-Palembang 2018, the men’s volleyball team will now be without a medal for the first time in 61 years since the last Games in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1962. It was a clear wake-up call for the men’s basketball team, including Heo.
“I saw (the article) today. It was definitely a wake-up call. “It’s a bad situation for volleyball, but it’s a wake-up call for our players,” he said with a determined look on his face.
Like Heo, the head coach was also “serious” about winning. “When you go out to play, you have to aim to win, and when you go out to battle, you have to win,” said Chu Il-seung. “We will do our best to be at the top, at the top. Some of the veteran players have won gold medals (at the Asian Games). I think they’re doing a good job of spreading the word to the younger guys and setting the tone. I think it’s a very positive effect,” he concluded.
At the arrival site of the national team, KT Sports, the club affiliate of Heo Hoon (now a senior executive), Ha Yoon-ki, and Moon Jung-hyun (who will be joining Korea University-Suwon KT), was on hand to provide promotional support. KT produced mini banners with messages such as “You are a proud Korean national team member” to convey support and pride to each athlete.
KT will also deliver supportive messages to athletes competing in sports such as shooting, hockey, and baseball who are scheduled to arrive in Korea in the future.