Defending champion Asan Woori Bank started the new season on a high note with an opening night victory.
Led by head coach Satellite Woo, Woori Bank defeated Busan BNK 74-70 in overtime in the opening game of the 텍사스홀덤 2023-2024 Women’s Korean Basketball League (WKBL) at Asan Sunshin Gymnasium on Friday.
Woori Bank won the return match of last season’s championship game with a smile on its face, gaining confidence in its defense of the top spot. Woori got off to a good start, as they were expected to be the favorite in the second round with a healthy Park Ji-soo and Cheongju KB.
Woori Bank, not at full strength due to the departure of championship-winning veteran forward Kim Jong-un (Hana OneQ) and the injury absence of Park Hye-jin, won with Kwan-rok leading the way.
The biggest star in women’s professional basketball, Kim Danby, was in full force. Kim recorded a “triple-double” with 32 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists in 42:46 of overtime. She also added three blocked shots, becoming the second WKBL player to reach 500 career blocked shots (501) after Lee Jong-ae (retired-862). Park Ji-hyun also contributed with 14 points and 14 rebounds. After the game, Woori Bank head coach Satellite Woo said, “I saw the power of veterans in today’s game. We won because we have (Kim) Dan-bi, who scored 14 points in the fourth quarter alone,” he said.
It wasn’t an easy win. Woori started the first half with a 35-31 lead, but it wasn’t easy to hold off BNK.
In the middle of the fourth quarter, a three-pointer by BNK rookie Kim Jong-un (6 points) and back-to-back baskets by Jin-an (22 points) and Kim Han-byul (9 points) cut the deficit to 56-61. The Koreans were fortunate to have Kim Dan-bi’s focus under the basket in the fourth quarter, as she made a three-pointer with 1:04 left in the game to make it 62-61. However, with the score tied at 64-64, Kim’s last shot at the basket went out of bounds, sending the game into overtime.
Woori Bank won the game with two strokes of luck. Just 21 seconds into the overtime period, BNK’s Kim Han-byul was called for five fouls, tipping the balance in their favor as they gained a clear advantage under the basket.
Moreover, a spilled ball by BNK’s Lee So-hee fell into Woori’s hands with 1:17 left in the overtime with Woori Bank leading 70-68. On the ensuing possession, the game was effectively decided when Kim Dan-bi assisted Goara (8 points) on a three-pointer with her 10th assist to complete her triple-double.
Meanwhile, Woori Bank’s Yoo Seung-hee left the court with a knee injury at the 4:10 mark of the third quarter. Although she did not collide with an opponent, she complained of pain in the injured area, raising concerns about her availability from the opening game. Yoo Seung-hee, who was traded from Shinhan Bank, was expected to fill Park Hye-jin’s injury gap, but she suffered an untimely injury in the first game.