Park In-woong (23, 190 cm) recorded a career-high to lead his team to victory.
The Wonju DB won 94-86 in the fourth round of the 2023-2024 Korean Basketball Association (KBA) Finals against Suwon KT at the Wonju General Gymnasium on Monday.
In their previous meeting in the third round, DB lost 82-90 as Paris Bass scored 43 points. For DB to win, they needed to control the hot-hitting Bass.
Before the match, coach Kim Joo-sung said, “I’ll leave the defense of Bath to Kang Sang-jae, and Park In-woong will play in the second position. He’s been in good form lately, so I’m going to trust him and give him a shot.”
According to Kim, Park In-woong had 17 points and four rebounds in the away game against Seoul Samsung. In particular, his well-timed and sensitive three-pointers helped tilt the game in DB’s favor. Without Park In-woong’s one shot, DB would have had a tough time against last-place Samseong.
Park brought his fond memories of Jamsil to Wonju.
Park had a 100% field goal percentage from the first quarter, and he continued to score left, right, and center in the second quarter. With 16 points in the first half alone, his hot shooting didn’t cool off in the second.
He kept the momentum in DB’s favor in the second half, hitting three-pointers and fast breaks whenever KT tried to pull away. After adding nine new points, Park finished with 25 points, two rebounds, and one assist in 35 minutes and 55 seconds, matching his career high set in the previous Samsung game.
After the game, Park said, “I feel so good. It was a very important game before the All-Star break, and we were able to avenge our Game 3 loss.”
This season, Park In-woong has been a force to be reckoned with in the fourth quarter. Coach Kim Joo-sung also expressed his faith in him, saying, “He’s a player who can deliver in clutch situations.” However, Park showed some ups and downs early in the season.
“Before Samsung Electronics, I was out of rhythm, and there were many parts of me that were atrophied. “I’m a lucky player because all my brothers, including the manager and coach, told me to shoot when I had a chance because they would get all the rebounds, and I think that worked well from Samsung Electronics to today,” he said, thanking his teammates.
He added, “In the first half, I was shooting well, so I thought I would renew my career high once more (laughs). My brothers also gave me good passes,” he added.
There’s a reason why Park’s shooting has improved recently. He made a change in his practice to remind himself of the good old days.
“My coach at Chung-Ang University, Dui-won, told me that if you shoot the mid-range well, the three-point shot will come naturally,” he said, “so I’ve been practicing more mid-range shots than three-point shots lately.
With his stellar performances, Park has been mentioned as one of the frontrunners for the Player of the Year award.
Park In-woong said, “I’m not greedy when it comes to developing my skills. (Kang) Sang-jae-hyung and I have been jokingly exchanging such words, but I think it will be worse if I worry about it. I just want to play happy basketball without injury and help the team reach the top,” he said.
After storming to the top of the standings at the start of the season, DB hasn’t been knocked off the top spot since the first half of the season ended. Despite being labeled as a dark horse heading into the season, not many expected DB to do so well.
Park In-woong said, “The team atmosphere is so good. The manager and coach show us everything in practice, and that’s the driving force behind our success. I’m grateful for the opportunity and I’m desperate to play, no matter how many seconds I play. I’m not going to back down, I’m going to go for it, and I’m going to go for it harder.”
“I want to be a versatile player,” he concluded, “and in the KBL, my ultimate goal is to be like Lee Jung-hyun of Seoul Samsung.