The media days leading up to the opening ceremony are always a provocation. On the surface, everyone smiles, but underneath it all, there is no hiding the will to win.
Park Ji-soo, 25, of the Cheongju KB in the women’s professional basketball league, is one of the most determined players in the six clubs this season. At the 2023-2024 Women’s Professional Basketball Media Day held at Hotel Rivera Cheongdam 바카라사이트 in Gangnam-gu, Seoul on March 30, Park was by far the player who received the most attention.
Park briefly left the court last year after suffering a sudden panic attack ahead of the Women’s Basketball World Cup. She returned midway through the season, but was sidelined in February this year with a dislocated ligament in her left finger. As the team’s pillar fell, so did KB, which finished the season in fifth place.
Park smiled broadly at the fans at the media day, saying, “(Media days) always have a hard atmosphere, but it’s like an event and it’s fun.” However, her smile quickly faded and tears filled her eyes as the video showed her struggles last season.
“I really want to show my true self,” Park said, “I didn’t play much last season, and I wasn’t good enough for the Asian Games team. I will improve as the season progresses,” she said.
A ‘healthy’ Park Ji-soo could be a game-changer in the women’s professional basketball world. In fact, heading into the season, Park was the overwhelming favorite for Most Valuable Player (MVP) among fans (30.3%), players (52.4%), and media (67.7%). Even as the favorite to win the title, KB led defending champion Woori Bank by a wide margin in fan (36.8%), player (47.6%), and media (55.4%) voting. Park’s name carries a lot of weight.
“Our tagline for this season is ‘Yellow Devil,'” says KB head coach Wansoo Kim. When you watch a national soccer team game, there are red devil cheerleaders, and the players wear red uniforms, which gives them a sense of authority. Our team color is yellow, and we want to make yellow the devil’s color for the five teams we play this season.”
Of course, other teams are not going to let KB’s dominance go unchallenged. Especially Kim Dan-bi, who led Woori Bank to the title last season, earning herself the ‘Combined MVP (regular season + championship game)’ award and her first championship in 16 seasons. “When (Park) Ji-soo first came to the pros, I told her, ‘You’re going to be a treasure for Korean women’s basketball,’ and that’s exactly what happened,” Kim said. “As an older sister, I’d rather bully Ji-soo into not winning the MVP so that she doesn’t settle for anything less.”
The other teams also had some unusual entries. Last season’s runner-up, Busan BNK, put “energy” front and center. “Just as drinking an energy drink makes your heart pound, we will show a fiery side that will make (fans) feel excited while watching us play,” said BNK coach Park Jung-jeong. Yongin Samsung Life coach Lim Geun-bae said, “The direction we need to go is ‘Bad Girls’. It’s about being a little stronger. I believe that we will be bad girls in a good sense, not in a bad sense,” he said, adding that they will stick together.
The 2023-2024 Women’s Professional Basketball League will begin its five-month campaign on November 5 with the opening game between Woori Bank and BNK at Asan Sunshin Gymnasium.