South Korean men’s basketball player Heo Hoon has spoken of his emotions after his country’s loss to “arch-rivals” Japan.
Chu Il-seung’s men’s basketball team fell to Japan 77-83 in their third game of Group D at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. With the loss to Japan, South Korea faces a tough road to the quarterfinals.
After winning their first two games of the tournament, 95-55 over Indonesia and 76-64 over Qatar, the South Koreans were able to advance to the quarterfinals, but were held back by Japan. With Japan topping the group, South Korea will finish second in Group D and will have to fight for a quarterfinal berth in the best-of-12 tournament against the third-place team from Group C on Oct. 2.
South Korea struggled on offense on the day, allowing Japan to shoot 17 three-pointers. Japan’s offense was strong from the outside in the first quarter, but they were unable to put the game away. Heo Hoon led the way with 24 points, including six three-pointers, but was outplayed on offense by Japan. Ha Yoon-ki, Ragan-ah, and Jeon Sung-hyun each had 12 points.
In the first quarter, which started with Heo Hoon, Lee Woo-seok, Yang Hong-seok, Ragan-ah, and Lee Seung-hyun, Korea was stymied by Japan, who scored the first 13 points. After a basket by Takumi Saito, Japan answered with back-to-back outside shots, followed by back-to-back baskets by Keita Imamura. Korea responded with a basket by Heo Hoon, followed by a basket by Ragan and three-pointers by Heo Hoon and Jeon Sung-hyun. Korea closed the gap to three points, 17-20, but Takuma Sato hit an outside shot with 27 seconds left to end the first quarter, 17-23.
The second quarter started with a basket by Lee Woo-seok, but Japan hit back-to-back free throws to take a 10-point lead, 29-19. Korea’s shots were not falling and Heo Hoon answered with a three-pointer at 24-35. A free throw by Ragan made it 37-30, but Japan continued to take advantage of Korea’s gaps and hit three-pointers. Korea closed out the second quarter with a three-pointer from Kim Sun-hyung to make it 37-43.
South Korea chipped away in the third quarter with a steal and free throw by Ha Yun-ki from the side. After Jeon Sung-hyun’s three-pointer, Heo Hoon’s steal and Ha Yoon-ki’s finish made the score 46-48. Korea then tied the score at 48-48 with a basket by Ragan-ah, but gave up offensive rebounds to Japan.
Korea responded with a basket by Ha Yun-ki, but Japan’s easy baskets allowed them to regain the lead.
Starting the fourth quarter at 53-61, Korea closed the gap with back-to-back baskets from Lee Seung-hyun. After a turnover gave Japan an offensive opportunity, Korea tried to turn the tide with back-to-back three-pointers by Heo Hoon to pull within one point, 65-66. However, the lead proved elusive. Japan ran away with the game behind Takumi’s outside shooting, and Korea struggled with their shot attempts in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Heo Hoon’s three-pointer made it 74-79 with a minute left to play. Japan answered with a three-pointer from Raita Akaho to extend the lead again. Heo hit another three-pointer to keep the game close, but Japan’s free throws made it 77-83, and Heo’s three-pointer was off the mark. 굿모닝토토
According to Yonhap News Agency, in a postgame interview, Heo said, “It was a game we should have won today, but I’m disappointed as a player and angry with myself. I feel bad, but it’s not over yet, so I will do my best to play hard in the quarterfinals and semifinals to reach the final unconditionally.”
He also spared no words of criticism. “Honestly, during the three months of preparation, the players should have been more determined and put everything on the line, but I thought they were very lacking in that aspect. It seems like they were hoping for a lucky break,” Heo Hoon said.
Heo Hoon added, “It’s the players’ fault that we lost the game, but I hope they will prepare well for the national team matches in the future.” Jeon Sung-hyun also bowed his head, saying, “There’s nothing to evaluate today, and there’s nothing to say because we lost.”