‘First time ever for a No. 5 team,’ KCC catches No. 1 DB in regular season to advance to championship game

Busan KCC defeated Wonju DB, the No. 1 team in the regular season, to advance to the championship game for the first time as the No. 5 team in the regular season.

KCC defeated DB 80-63 at home in the fourth round of the 2023-2024 Jungkwanjang Professional Basketball League quarterfinals playoffs (PO) at Sajik Gymnasium in Busan on Nov. 21.

With a 3-1 series lead in the best-of-five best-of-three PO, KCC advanced to the championship game for the third time in three years and the 11th time in its history since the 2020-2021 season (runner-up). Notably, KCC also became the first team from the fifth-ranked team in the regular season to reach the championship.

KCC, dubbed the “Super Team” for its spectacular lineup of Heo Woong, Choi Jun-yong, Ragan-ah, Song Kyo-chang, and Lee Seung-hyun, defeated Seoul SK in three straight games in the best-of-six PO, and swept the regular season’s No. 1 DB 스포츠토토존 in the best-of-four PO.

With the victory, KCC head coach Jeon Chang-jin surpassed 50 career PO wins (43). Jeon is second on the all-time wins list behind former Ulsan Hyundai Mobis coach Yoo Jae-hak (58 wins and 50 losses).

KCC will play for its sixth championship in 13 years and first since the 2010-2011 season in the championship match on Nov. 27.

The other best-of-four PO, which will determine KCC’s opponent, is still in progress, with regular-season runner-up Changwon LG leading third-place Suwon KT by two games to one heading into Game 4 on Dec. 22.

DB advanced directly to the best-of-four PO with a solid performance from Lee Sun Albano and Didrik Lawson, who were named the regular season’s domestic and international Most Valuable Player (MVP), as well as Kang Sang-jae and Kim Jong-kyu, but ended the season without reaching the championship game.

The first quarter belonged to KCC’s Laguna. After blocking DB Kim Young-hyun’s two-point attempt with 1:44 left in the quarter when KCC led 17-15, Lagunia widened the gap with a jump shot and then roared back with a block of Kim Jong-kyu’s shot with 42.5 seconds left.

Lagana’s block also came on Dedrick Lawson’s three-point attempt just before the end of the first quarter, giving KCC a 21-15 lead.

In the second quarter, Alize DeShawn Johnson, who came in for Lagana midway through the period, was hot. Johnson scored 10 points, more than half of her team-high 17 points in the second quarter, including back-to-back three-pointers to make it 29-24 with 4:25 left in the quarter and 32-26 with 3:48 left, to help KCC take a 38-32 lead into halftime.

After DB was held scoreless for the first four minutes of the second half, KCC scored 10 unanswered points, including three-pointers from Ragan and Choi, to take a 48-32 lead.

At the end of the third quarter, KCC led 55-44. DB, which had been held to eight and seven points by the regular season’s domestic and international MVPs Lee Sun Albano and Dedrick Lawson, respectively, through the third quarter, found itself in a more difficult situation when one of its pillars, Kim Jong-kyu, fouled out with five fouls with over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Lawson and Albano’s outside shooting started to fizzle out, but KCC, led by Heo Woong’s performance, refused to lose momentum and drove a wedge with a three-pointer from Lagana that made it 75-61 with 1:36 left in regulation.

Lagunia finished with 17 points and 17 rebounds, including three 3-pointers, to record his first double-double in all four PO games and added six blocked shots on the night to lead the way to the championship.

Song Kyo-chang and Heo Woong added 14 points, while Choi Jun-yong and Johnson chipped in 10 points each to round out the ‘Super Team’.

At DB, Lawson had 16 points and eight rebounds, while Albano added 14 points and five rebounds.

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