Meet the Asia Cup 2022 Teams: Korea
JAKARTA (Indonesia) - You can’t tell the entire history of the FIBA Asia Cup without Korea. Aside from never missing a single Asia Cup, Korea have also finished among the top 3 teams in the final standings on all but 5 occasions.
Let’s take a quick moment to meet Korea in this "Meet the Teams" series!
World Rank according to FIBA World Ranking Presented by Nike: 30
Nothing too interesting here at the moment. Korea have always been one of the top teams in Asia & Oceania and were ranked exactly at 30 in the World and 5 in Asia at the start of the Asia Cup Qualifiers.
That hasn’t changed.
Korea has a slight moment where they moved up one spot to 29, but later moved down at the end of 2021 Ranking update.
Asia Cup Debut: 1960
Another one of the true “OGs”, Korea were among the 7 teams that played in the first ever FIBA Asia Cup.
However, they struggled against the Philippines, Japan, and Chinese Taipei, and ended up at 4th place in the Final Standings. They would not finish outside of the top 3 spots for the next 35 years.
Asia Cup Appearances (including 2022): 30
That’s right. Korea have played in all Asia Cup that there have ever been. It doesn’t seem like they’ll be missing any in the near future either, as the up-and-coming young talents are already lining up for their opportunities.
Most Recent Appearance: 2017
Korea’s 12th Asia Cup bronze medal from the 2017 edition of the competition came in a bit of an unexpected run.
The team saw quite some transition from the previous squads and there was plenty of hype around the other contending teams whether it was Australia and New Zealand making their debuts or the likes of Iran, China, and the Philippines. There was no doubt that Korea were going to be good, but were they Semi-Finals good?
That question was emphasized when Korea lost their first game to hosts Lebanon to start the competition. However, they were able to come back and beat New Zealand by one point and even though they ended up at 3rd place in the Group C, it was clear that this was not a team to be taken lightly.
After advancing through Japan in the Qualifying Phase, Korea matched up with the red-hot Philippines squad in the Quarter-Finals and exacted yet another crushing loss against their rivals.
Following a loss to Iran, Korea faced - and beat - the Tall Blacks once again to claim another podium finish.
Best Position in Final Standings: Champions (1969, 1997)
Korea has won the Asia Cup twice. Their first title was won in Bangkok in 1969 where Korea beat all 8 opponents that crossed their path. Japan and the Philippines were the closest to contest the eventual champions and both lost to Korea by 9 points.
The title run in 1997 was a bit more eventful with twists and turns along the way. Korea meant business as usual and breezed through the Preliminary Round, advancing to the Quarter-Final round in a tough group with Japan, Chinese Taipei, and Iran. They took an early loss to Japan, leaving themselves in a situation where they would have to face 5-time defending champions China.
Korea had lost to China in 4 of the previous 5 Asia Cup Finals. This time in the Semi-Finals, however, they were able to stop China’s reign in an 86-72 win.
Moreover, they were able to exact revenge on Japan in the Final as well, and their 78-76 win clinched them their first Asia Cup in nearly 30 years.
Notable Player(s): Yang DongGeun
With 30 Asia Cup appearances, there are definitely more than enough Notable Players to list here (whether it’s Hur Jae, Ha SeungJin, or Kim JooSung), but we’re settling with one of more recent legends for now in Yang DongGeun.
Yang played in 5 Asia Cups in a total of 40 games, ending up with solid averages of 8.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per contest. More than the counting numbers, Yang has won 3 Asia Cup bronze medals, excelling as a star on each team he’s been a part of.
It’s not easy to stand out as one of the best for a national team with as much history as Korea, but Yang DongGeun really was one of Korea’s best ever.
How they got here:
Korea were able to qualify for their 30th Asia Cup appearance as the second-placed team in Group A. They had no trouble beating Thailand and Indonesia to clinch their qualification ticket, but it was against the Philippines where they struggled.
Both games against the Philippines ended up going down to the wire and in both occasions, it was Korea that were left heartbroken.
Nonetheless, Korea are qualified for Asia Cup 2022 and will be more than ready if a rematch against the Philippines was to eventually happen.
Current Outlook: Big things ahead
Make no mistake, Korea are already a solid contender in the Asia Cup with the likes of Ra GunA, Lee DaeSung, Kim JongKyu, the Heo brothers, and more. What could make things even more interesting is the possibility of having NBA Draft prospect Lee HyunJung mixed in with the veterans.
Lee already showed fans what’s he’s capable of during the Asia Cup Qualifiers and having him play with the group of veterans that are expected to play in Jakarta could make an exciting spectacle.