FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2018 top scorer Marcus Keene returns to Asia in style with a heroic game-winner
JEONJU (Korea) - On October 2, 2018, Marcus Keene dropped a three-pointer just above the top the key in the waning seconds of the game to lift Thailand’s Mono Vampire Basketball Club over Pauian Archiland of Chinese-Taipei for 5th place in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup. Less than half a year later, Keene is back to dropping long range clutch shots once again in Asia but this time in Korea for Jeonju KCC Egis.
Keene received the ball after a missed shot by Anyang KGC’s Yang Hee-Jong right in front of the basket with only 3.6 seconds left in the game. Jeonju were down 79-81 so there was only one thing that Keene could do.
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"I looked up and saw that we had a limited amount of time. I just tried to get up the court as far as possible to get up a good look," Keene said.
"We just got the ball and I looked up and we had three seconds," Keene also mentioned during a postgame interview. "I saw [Lee Jung-Hyun] open, but I couldn’t get it to him."
"I just shot it and it just went in."
The shot was be Keene’s 18th point and 4th triple of the game, marking his best outing in his first 4 KBL games. Funnily enough, Keene had yet to play in a single second of the entire 4th quarter up until the final 22.3 seconds. It was then that teammate Brandon Brown fouled out of the game.
"Playing in the KBL, it’s very competitive. It’s different," Keene expressed. The KBL limits teams to use their two foreign players in the 2nd and 3rd quarter, while only one can be fielded at a time in the 1st and 4th periods. "It’s different getting used to coming off the bench and doing what I can do to just help the team win in a shorter amount of time than usual."
It turns out that all the time Keene needed to help KCC get a win was just 22.3 seconds. Jeonju was able to force two turnovers leading to the Keene's game-winning shot. The victory over Anyang KCC was Jeonju’s 3rd in the 4 games since bringing in the diminutive guard that lead the NCAA Division 1 in scoring back in 2017. If you’ve been paying attention, Keene says that all of this - the winning and the clutch shots - is just what he does.
"If you do research, I’ve made game winners all my life," Keene said with a smile, his emotions still gushing during the postgame interview session. "We had to shoot it, I got my legs into it, and it just went in."
Fans won’t have to go too far back to research Keene’s prior late game heroics. The explosive guard went on a tear during his first stint in Asia, leading the FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2018 in scoring with 28.2 points per game for Mono Vampire Basketball Club. None of those points were louder nor more important than his final three-pointer that won 5th place for the Thailand team in the regional club competition. The circumstances and situations were different, but it all meant a victory for Keene and his team nonetheless.
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"The shot [with Mono] was different because I had time to size the defender up and make my move to shoot the three," Keene explained. "This time I was in a rush and I just had to get down as far as possible with less time."
The fifth-place finish for Mono Vampire was the highest ever for a team from Thailand in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup. Keene only hopes that he can also help another team to great success here with Jeonju KCC Egis in Korea. Jeonju are currently 25-24 at 5th place in the KBL standings with 5 games left in the season. Three of the remaining games of the season are against teams ahead of Jeonju in the standings, meaning they can still make a decent push to finish at 3rd place. With the talent that Jeonju has on their roster like MVP candidate Lee Jung-Hyun and former NBA player Ha Seung-Jin, it’s not crazy to think they can make a run at claiming their first KBL title since 2011.
"[Jeonju] KCC brought me in to fill the point guard scoring role, to help them with the playoff push, and win the title," Keene says. "I haven’t won a championship since high school, so to be able to compete and be at this level, trying to win the playoffs would be something very special to me. That’s what I’m focused on right now. Just trying to win the KBL championship and prove everyone wrong that we can do it."
Jeonju KCC Egis will need to go through a slew of highly competitive teams like Ulsan Hyundai Mobis Fibers or the Incheon ETLand Elephants to win the title, but getting to the promise land means a chance at representing Korea at the FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2019. Keene’s focus is still locked on winning the KBL title for now, but he’s enjoyed playing with and against the talents in Asia and maybe he’ll get another shot of action at #FIBAAsiaCC.
"There’s good players like Bronco [Lee Jung-Hyun] on my team. Some other good Koreans on [Ulsan] Mobis. I’ve been around here for only 4 games but there’s some very good Korean basketball players out here," Keene says. "I love playing in Asia. It’s very fast paced. They like scoring guards and players who can score. Playing in Asia is very fun, very different from Europe."
The next time you see Marcus Keene hit a game-winner, you can now say that you aren’t surprised after seeing him drain two ice-cold shots already in his career. Maybe he’ll have even more in the near future, possibly to help Jeonju clinch a KBL title or maybe even in a second season of playing in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup. Who knows?