“The will of the players was strong,” says coach Kook Seon-Kyung on first-ever 4th place finish

Gwangju University head coach Kook Seon-kyung credits her players for their determination.

Gwangju University defeated Pusan National University 63-51 in the championship game of the 2023 KUSF University Basketball U-League at Busan National University’s Gyeongam Gymnasium on Wednesday to stand atop the women’s college division.

Gwangju University entered the playoffs in fourth place with five wins and five losses in the regular season, but swept both No. 1 Suwon University and No. 2 Pusan University to win the championship trophy for the third time in six years and the first time since 2017. It is the first time a fourth-place finisher has been crowned champion in both the men’s and women’s college basketball leagues.

After finishing the first quarter on an 18-9 run, KU opened up a double-digit lead at the start of the second quarter. The score remained around 10 points until the fourth quarter, when they cut the deficit to four points, but they rallied and had the last laugh.

“I’m just grateful for the win. I’m grateful to the players for their hard work,” he said after the win, adding, “I think it’s poisonous to tell them what to do and emphasize their movements. I just say, ‘Come on, have fun. You can move,’ and they move better because they’re free to do what they want to do. I thought the players had to step up in their roles, and I think that made the game easier,” he said, giving the credit for the victory to the players.

Yang Yoo-jung, who has been a scoring force since the last MBC Varsity National College Basketball Tournament, was named MVP for her outstanding play in the playoffs.

Coach Kook Seon-kyung said, “Actually, I know she’s a better player when I play with her.” “You might think that Yang Yoo-jung is a trump card for opponents because her three-point shot is weak. But she’s also a good penetrator and has a quick and long footstep. If she works on her outside shot, I think she will become a scary player who can play both inside and outside,” said Yang, a sophomore.

Gwangju was in trouble in the second quarter when point guard Chung Chae-ryun picked up four fouls, which allowed Jo to take over and keep the game close. In the fourth quarter, when they were trailing, Zhao scored with Yang Yujing to win the game. The victory was made possible by the fact that she had traveled from Japan.

Coach Kook Seon-kyung said, “We were able to hold on (when Chung Chae-ryeon picked up four fouls) because of him. Even though she came from across the ocean, she was quick to adapt to school and the team. She gets along well with her sisters and works hard. She’s a player we can learn a lot from,” he said, adding, “I thought about signing her a little bit because she’s short, but she did so well. I’m grateful.”

Last year, Gwangju also advanced to the championship game after finishing fourth in the regular season.

When asked what made them win the championship this year despite finishing fourth in the regular season, Coach Kook Sun-kyung said, “We always go to the finish line even if we finish fourth, but we collapsed in the final because we lacked backbone. “I think other teams will work hard, but I don’t think there is anyone who works as hard and as sincerely as the players of Gwangju University. Even though the last practice of the season was when we moved up to fourth place, I think it was the strength to last until the finals,” he said.

This year’s seniors went straight to the playoffs after missing out on the WKBL Draft. The same can be said for Gwangju University’s Park Sae-byul and Kim Won-ji. They didn’t make it to the pros, but they ended their college careers with a championship.

“It’s hard for this year’s seniors to not be selected in the draft, not only from our university, but also from other teams,” said Kook. “They’re struggling because they didn’t perform as well as they did in the draft, but that’s not all I want to say to them. I want them to go to the unemployment team and continue to play basketball and study in graduate school, and I think that’s a good way to go. She’s studying education, so I’ll be there to help her.”

Gwangju University reached the championship game for the third consecutive year and won this year. Although Park Sae-byul and Kim Won-ji are graduating, the team is expected to be even better next year.

“The centers we have are not in good shape,” said Kook Sun-kyung. “If the centers are available in the normal range during winter training, we will be able to play a little more comfortably next year,” he said.

Gwangju will end 2023 by competing in the National Championships in October. They will open with a match against Ulsan University, and if they win, they will face Daegu Metropolitan Government for a spot in the quarterfinals 먹튀검증.

“We are playing an unemployed team in the quarterfinals. I think we will be able to play comfortably without any pressure, but we will do our best.”






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