“We didn’t want to lose twice in front of our fans”
Cheongju KB Stars won 50-45 against Asan Woori Bank in the second round of the Woori WON 2023-2024 Women’s Professional Basketball League on Sunday at Cheongju Gymnasium. They avenged their first-round loss. KB Stars improved to 6-1 on the season.
Park Ji-soo (196 cm, C) won the ace matchup with Kim Dan-bi (180 cm, F) with 18 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one blocked shot in 34 minutes and 43 seconds. She already had a double-double in the first half. In the shootout, she decided the game with a basket and an assist.
After the game, Park said, “I wanted the fans to come out. They came as much as the home opener (in fact, more people came to Cheongju Gymnasium than the home opener), but we were down big in the first quarter. After seeing the fans, we realized that we could never lose this game. If there were fewer fans, it would have been difficult to win. I didn’t want to lose two games in front of them. I was trying to be calm, and that’s what the authorization is.”
“I was excited about the second quarter when we played good defense. You can set the tone when you play good defense more than when you play good offense. You can only score as many points on offense as you give up. My coaches have emphasized defense since I was a kid. We had a lot of defensive successes, and the players trusted each other. That’s why we were able to bring the atmosphere,” he added.
Park Ji-soo’s face was grim after a poor first quarter. The smile returned in the second quarter, when she picked up her game.
“I wanted to win so badly in the first quarter. I was excited. I was disappointed with the foul calls, but so was my opponent. We should have been like that from the start. I was excited to set the tone early. In the second half, I tried to settle down. There’s a meme among the fans that says, ‘If I smile, the team wins’. I remembered that,” he said.
One player who helped Park Ji-soo through his recent slump was Lee Kyung-eun (173 cm, G) of Shinhan Bank in Incheon. Park had gotten to know Lee on the national team.
“(Lee) contacted my sister. We talked a lot for the first time on the national team. I asked her for advice and leaned on her psychologically. This time, she said she was worried about me, so she called me first, saying, ‘What’s wrong, are you sick? I got myself together. I was only thinking about my shooting percentage in the last three games, so I wasn’t focused on the game. From the first quarter on, I played like I had to make a shot, not just make a couple of free throws. The record is important, but I realized that it’s more important to focus on the game.”
“Meeting with coach (Wansoo) Kim also played a role. He compared our records from the 2021-2022 season, when we won the title, to the 2023-2024 season. He told me that everything went up except field goal percentage and scoring. He told us not to get carried away because there are averages. He told me that even if I don’t make one, if I think about making the next one, it will come up.” “I actually thought he was going to scold me. We never had a meeting like that. I felt like I had to repay him, and I was grateful that he said, ‘You’re human, you can make mistakes.’ I usually think that way, but I’m not greedy. I usually think that way, but it wasn’t easy because I was greedy,” he concluded the press conference.