KB Stars carry momentum into regular season with Futures League win
Cheongju KB Stars won the Woori Bank Woori WON 2023-2024 Women’s Professional Basketball Futures League with TicketLink 69-58 in the final against Bucheon Hana OneQ at Asan Sunshin Gymnasium on Friday. The team overcame the injury to Ko Hyun-ji (182 cm, F) with solid organization.
KB Stars won the first game of the Futures League qualifiers against Incheon Shinhan Bank 68-63 on Feb. 2. They followed that up with a 63-49 victory over Samsung Life in Yongin in the second game of the qualifiers on March 3. The KB Stars Futures League roster, which is relatively lacking in centers, did not lose the height battle.
Ko Hyun-ji (182 cm, F), the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023-2024 WKBL Rookie Draft, played a big role. She averaged 11 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.5 steals, and 3.5 blocked shots in the two qualifying games. Despite his skinny frame, he dominated his opponents with his overwhelming athleticism and activity.
However, Ko left the game with a right ankle injury just 8 minutes and 32 seconds into the final. In his short time on the court, he had energized his team with seven points, one rebound, two assists, and one blocked shot. He was forced to leave the court due to an untimely injury.
KB Stars was left exposed to a height disadvantage. With the exception of Sung Hye-kyung (177 cm, F), who only played 3:55 minutes in the two qualifying games, the team’s longest player was actually Sung Hye-kyung (181 cm, F). She continued to allow Park So-hee (178 cm, F) to score under the basket and Kim Hana (180 cm, C) and Ko Seo-yeon (171 cm, F) to grab rebounds.
Nevertheless, KB Stars was able to create second-chance points through aggressive offensive rebounding. Lee Chae-eun (171 cm, G) and other guards drove to the rim. Their aggressive offense from the inside and outside continued to pound the stout Hana OneQ defense.
KB Stars’ continued efforts paid off in the third quarter. Having won the energy level battle, KB Stars slowly started to win the rebounding battle. The stabilization of the defense also had a positive effect on the offense. Lee Yoon-mi (172 cm, F) bombed the rim from the outside.
With the game in hand, KB Stars maintained their energy level in the fourth quarter. They stayed active in the final 10 minutes of the fourth quarter, fighting for loose balls and rebounds. This was the key to holding off the Hana OneQ charge until the end.
“Yang Ji-soo, Lee Yoon-mi, Lee Chae-eun, and Shin Ye-young are already getting opportunities in the regular season,” said KB Stars coach Oh Jung-hyun after the game. (Lee) Hye-ju and (Ko) Joon-jeong can also get a chance in the regular season at any time. Coach (Kim Wan-soo) is also watching Hye-ju and Ko’s growth. It’s good that the young players gained confidence in the Futures League.”
KB Stars also gained momentum in the 2021-2022 season, when they won the overall title, by winning the Park Shinjah Cup with young players in the off-season. The team hopes that the Futures League experience will give them a boost in the regular season, as they have hungry players who can play in the regular league.