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Jung proves himself as a leader on the court

July 20,2018
이미지뷰
Jung Young-sam of the Incheon ET-Land Elephants competes for the ball during a game against China’s Xinjiang Flying Tigers in Macau on Tuesday. [KOREAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE]
Incheon ET-Land Elephants guard Jung Young-sam showed serious leadership during his team’s victory over China’s Xinjiang Flying Tigers 81-67 in the first group A match of the Summer Super Eight basketball tournament in Macau on July 17.

The Summer Super Eight tournament featured eight teams from five Asian countries, including China’s Guangzhou Long-Lions and Japan’s Rizing Zephyr Fukuoka. The Elephants were missing key players such as Park Chan-hee and Gang Sang-jae, who were called up to the national team, and Cha Ba-wee, who was injured. Despite this, Korean team won convincingly on the back of Jung’s 17-point, eight-rebound performance.

Since he debuted in 2007, Jung has been a one-club man, with the exception of his military service, when he played for the military’s basketball team. Over his career, the Elephants star averaged 25 minutes and 56 seconds of playing time and 9.14 points per game. Over the last eight seasons, the team made it to the Korean Basketball League (KBL) playoffs seven times. The Elephants were the third seed in the fourth round of the playoffs and sixth seed in the sixth round of the playoffs. Despite their success, the team has yet to make it to the KBL finals.

“Although our team makes it into the playoffs consistently, we have not given our fans the joy of winning a semifinal and making the finals,” Jung said. “In 2011, we had great players like Moon Tae-jong and Seo Jang-hoon, but we lost in the semifinals.”

The Elephants guard said that he was impressed by the Icelandic national football team’s ability to freeze Argentina’s offense during their 1-1 draw during the 2018 Russia World Cup. “Iceland was objectively the underdogs, but their determination was impressive,” he said. “We are not in an ideal condition, as some of our players are injured, but we have grit and determination much like Iceland.

“Our point guard Park Chan-hee leads the team well. Gang Sang-jae and Jeong Hyo-geun have grown with experience. Cha Ba-wee and I compete at the same position, and he shows great ability and character. I am looking forward to this coming season,” Jung said.

In his third professional season, Jung tore a ligament in his left shoulder and traveled to Philadelphia for surgery at a specialized hospital. Jung said that the surgeon told him he would have to retire if he was a baseball player. Fortunately for the Elephants, the surgery went well, though Jung still has five pins from the surgery in his shoulder.

“After the end of this season, my contract is over and I become a free agent,” Jung said. “This year could be my last, and even if I played more, it would only be a couple more years at most. Before I am no longer able to step foot on this court, I want to get through the semifinals to the championship and hopefully win it all.”

BY PARK RIN [enational@joongang.co.kr]