Kang Lee-seul breaks World Cup record as Korea beat Bosnia
Kang Lee-seul scored 37 points to lead Korea to its first FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup win in 12 years on Saturday, breaking the all-time World Cup efficiency record in the process.
Kang led Korea to a 99-66 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre, the national team’s first win of the 2022 World Cup and first victory in a World Cup game since a 68-66 win over Mali in September 2010.
Along with her 37 points, good enough to make her the second-highest scoring Korean in a World Cup game ever, Kang also added eight rebounds, five assists and three steals. Combined, that gives her a performance efficiency valuation of 44, beating the all-time World Cup record of 41 set by Australian center Liz Cambage in 2018.
“It’s special for me not just because of my personal record but because I played a good match for my team,” said Kang on Saturday.
“My personal record is good, but what is important is that all of the team came together to play the match.”
Korea has played three out of the five group stage matches, dropping the first match 107-44 to China on Thursday and the second match 84-61 to Belgium on Friday.
“The head coach helped me find my form back before the match,” said Kang. “Something didn’t feel right in my hand and that had bothered me. I really wanted to play well in the third match.
“The coaches emphasized timing a lot and that worked well toward the start of the match. I tried to focus on other things as well, not only on shots. More than anything else, all players wanted to win very much and I think that we won because we did our very best.”
Ahead of the World Cup, the Korean national team and head coach Jung Sun-min were left without ace player Park Ji-su who had suffered a panic attack in July. This came as a big loss for the national team, as Park is the only player active in both the Women’s Korean Basketball League (WKBL) and the WNBA.
“Our roster was not the best preparing for the World Cup,” said head coach Jung on Saturday.
“I was afraid that the players would have been discouraged after the big loss against China in the first match. But then players learned to enjoy the match more and gained confidence along the way and that led to them playing to more than their full potential in the third match. This is a very meaningful win for us because it is Korea’s first win at the World Cup in 12 years.”
With the win, Korea is currently fifth in Group A with four points. Puerto Rico also has four points but is placed fourth with an upper hand in points difference. Only the top four teams will advance to the knockout stage of the World Cup.
Korea is scheduled to face the United States on Monday and Puerto Rico on Tuesday to round off the group stage.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]