Dubai: South Korea have promised to do everything possible and defend their crown at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta after they claimed third place at the cost of Thailand at the 10th Fazza International Wheelchair Basketball Championships at the Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club indoor hall on Thursday evening.
The Koreans unseated long-time champions Japan to clinch gold at the 2014 Incheon Asian Para-Games, and followed this up with a best-ever finish for Asia with sixth position at the World Wheelchair Basketball Championships three months later. That feat, coupled with the starting of the professional Korean Wheelchair Basketball League (KWBL), witnessed a huge growth in the sport since the past three years.
South Korea entered the 10th edition of the Fazza competition as hot favourites. But coach Han Sa Hyun travelled with a few experimental players to Dubai with an eye on the future. “We needed to test these players and see if they can be accommodated in the national squad for Jakarta 2018,” Han told Gulf News after his team battled past Thailand 49-41.
“I will do everything possible to ensure South Korea will be at their best to defend the gold medal they won four years back. We are building the squad for the future, and the Asian Games in Indonesia is an important step for us. We are happy we had this opportunity to come and play in this tournament in Dubai,” he added.
Leading from the front was Korean skipper Lee Joo Youn as he top scored with 15 points, while Kim Soo Chul came in handy with eight points. Thailand was well-served with their star and captain with his 15 points as the Thais struggled to get past the Korean defence.
“I think our main problem is that we didn’t score every time we took an aim at the basket,” Thailand’s coach from Iran Abbas Aghakouchaki admitted after the match.
“But I am pleased as we could raise our game and play in a professional manner against an opponent that is among the best teams in the world. We did well in all departments. In the offence and defence we were simply too good, but we suffered in the shooting department,” he added.
Earlier, hosts the UAE claimed seventh place when they defeated Taiwan 47-41, while South Africa went on to take fifth following their 57-47 win over a young squad from Japan.
Third place: South Korea bt Thailand 49-41
Fifth place: South Africa bt Japan 57-47